Illustrative photo – Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský's briefing on Russian threats regarding the grounds of the Russian Embassy in Prague, May 18, 2023, Prague.
Riyadh – The current deep economic transformation of Saudi Arabia is a huge opportunity for the development of mutual economic relations, according to Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský. Today in Riyadh, he opened the Czech-Saudi Arab business forum, which he described as important not only for mutual relations, but also for the creation of meaningful business partnerships with the participation of Czech companies. From the Czech side, a fifteen-member business delegation is participating in the forum, made up of companies operating in areas ranging from the defense industry, through petrochemicals, construction, information technology, the music industry and even the spa industry.
“We are capable of producing everything, perhaps except for submarines, because we are a landlocked country,” commented Ilja Mazánek, chairman of the foreign section of the Czech Chamber of Commerce and Arabic expert, about the possibilities of Czech industry after a short introductory speech and presentation in Arabic.
He added that the Czech Republic is a highly economically and industrially developed country and reminded that the share of industry in the Czech gross domestic product is comparable to that of Germany. At the forum, Minister Lipavský introduced the representatives of Czech companies present, such as Česká zbrojovka or the piano manufacturer Petrof.
The aim of the ambitious Saudi Arabian reform plan known as “vision 2030” is to free the country's economy from dependence on oil exports and become an important player, for example, also in the field of tourism.
According to the Czech Chamber of Commerce, the European Union is the second largest trading partner of Saudi Arabia. Specifically, according to the chamber, the Czech Republic can take advantage of the opportunities in the developing mining industry there and offer its technologies. Riyadh spends six to eight percent of its GDP on defense and is the second largest importer of military equipment in the world, although it still relies heavily on the United States in this area. Other suppliers in this area include South Korea, Spain and Slovakia.
The Saudi Arabian population is relatively young with an average age of around 32 years. In 2050, it should increase from today's 35 million people to 45 million. In addition to diversifying the economy, the country also expects, among other things, to increase the employment of Saudi Arabs, including women, in the coming years. Among the Saudi Arabian representatives at the business forum today were several local businesswomen.
Today, the Czech Foreign Minister is still awaiting negotiations with his Saudi Arabian counterpart, Prince Faisal bin Farhán Saud. Večer Lipavský flies to Baghdad, Iraq.