Secret of Saudi Arabia’s Success in Creating Competition, Attracting US, China Investment in Technology

Strategic Council Online - Interview: Head of the international affairs of Sharif University Science and Technology Park, referring to Saudi Arabia’s targeting to create the largest digital market in the Middle East and North Africa in the coming years, said: Saudi Arabia has succeeded in bringing the US and China into competition for investment in the country.

In an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, Hormoz Jafari referred to Saudi Arabia’s effort to attract 9 billion dollars of capital in the field of new technologies and stated: The LEAP international technology conference held in Riyadh is a piece of the big puzzle of the country’s policymaking and that macro strategy can be analyzed within the framework of Hedging Strategy and has three basic domestic, regional and international dimensions.

He added: After realizing that the one-dimensional structure of the international system is moving towards a bipolar structure, in which China also plays a role, Saudi Arabia moved towards the Hedging Strategy. This strategy in the field of domestic economy, under the title “Vision 2030” has progressed mainly in the military and economic fields for Saudi Arabia, and has had less success in cultural and social reforms. Making investment in the field of technology is also included in the same field of “Vision 2030”.

The expert on international affairs, reminding that within the framework of that vision that Mohammed bin Salman announced in April 2016, referred to the upgrading the economic rank of the country from the 19th to the 15th in the world, the fifth rank in the field of e-government and the change of the 36th position of Saudi Arabia in the world in the field of business environment, and growth of non-oil revenues from 163 million dollars to one trillion dollars as being among the appropriate indicators and said: One of the important issues to achieve the targets of the Vision 2030 is the introduction of new technologies and investment of the big companies in this field in Saudi Arabia.

Stating that the Chinese made large investments in the first 2022 technology conference, held last year, and agreed to invest 6.4 billion dollars, Jafari continued: In the second term, the United States had a stronger presence and the two companies “Microsoft” and “Oracle”, which rank first and second in the world in the field of computer software, announced that they will invest about 9 billion dollars in Saudi Arabia.

The head of the International Affairs of Sharif University Science and Technology Park added: Saudi Arabia, in the form of Vision 2023, has been able to improve the operation and rules of the stock market and the entry of foreign capital in the very strategic discussion of “business atmosphere”. The “business atmosphere” has indicators whose components have been clarified in international organizations, and the efforts made by China in 2022 and the United States in 2023 to invest in Saudi Arabia show that Riyadh has been able to improve those indicators and make the two big powers to compete with each other for making investment in that country.

While explaining the numerous investments of large Chinese companies in Saudi Arabia, the international affairs analyst said: This situation shows the strategy of creating balance in the field of foreign policy, in such a way that the strategy of interaction with the East, by taking into account the correct interaction with the West, will lead to positive achievements.

Stating that the investment of large technology companies in Saudi Arabia will turn the country into a hub for cloud computing, Jafari continued: Balance in foreign policy has been able to secure the economic interests of a country like Saudi Arabia, and this issue show itself in securing political and security interests. Riyadh is trying to get out of the situation of relying on oil and petrochemical products and enter into the technological fields. When different countries make such huge investments in Saudi Arabia, securing its security becomes of international importance and gains more support in regional and international competitions.

He said: Riyadh has managed to force two world superpowers to invest heavily in the fields of technology in Saudi Arabia. Technological fields are very important for the US, and in the current situation when China is stealing the lead of superiority, it has come to the conclusion that it cannot secure its interests in Saudi Arabia only by threatening. From the point of view of the White House, deep interactions between Saudi Arabia and China in the field of technology cannot be tolerated. Therefore, even though Saudi Arabia did not accompany the US in the discussion of oil production, powerful US companies seriously entered LEAP 2023 in a situation where the interactions of the Biden administration with Riyadh are not very positive.

The head of the International Affairs of Sharif University Science and Technology Park stated that Saudi Arabia has attracted about 20 billion dollars in the field of technology alone in the past two years, adding: After the heinous murder of Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Turkey, Mohammed bin Salman was under a lot of pressure from the West; but now he managed to force Biden to travel to Saudi Arabia and shake hands and talk with himself, and American companies are also competing with China to invest in Saudi Arabia.

Saying that the capacity of Saudi Arabia is not comparable to some countries in the region, including Iran, which have much higher capacities in the field of technology, he added: Iran should also make a double effort to pursue a comprehensive policy in the field of investment strategy in the technology sector. More figures of such investments can be made in Iran, because the capacity and labor market of Iran and its economy of 85 million people cannot be compared to Saudi Arabia. But realization of such an important thing is to improve the business environment and improve the international status of the country. In the current situation, the international position of the country with a rank usually above 112 is not beautiful at all. Iran, even without the need for the capital that Saudi Arabia attracts, can take this path to a great extent by relying on its internal capabilities. In this regard, the country’s decision makers should provide the domestic and international context for the activities of the country’s scientific elites in consultation with the country’s leading science and technology centers.

Jafari said: China and the US are certainly seeking to secure their interests in Saudi Arabia. In addition to them, Saudi Arabia hosts Japan, France, Germany, Britain and other countries active in this field. Saudi Arabia must have considered its own interests. Even if this presence only leads to the creation of jobs in Saudi Arabia, it will greatly improve the economic condition of that country.

Saying that this cooperation is not only in the economic field and that Saudi Arabia also cooperates with China and the United States in the fields of military and missile technology, he pointed to Riyadh resistance against the US pressure to prevent cooperation with China and continued: The United States knows that if it does not enter the Saudi market, that country will come under the serious influence of China, and considering the pivotal role of the country in the Arab world, it will lose its position.

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