Saudi Arabia ready to invest 'quickly' in Iran, says Finance Minister

The kingdom and Iran agreed to restore ties last Friday

From left, Saudi national security adviser Musaad Al Aiban, Chinese diplomat Wang Yi and Iran’s Supreme National Security Council secretary Ali Shamkhani. AP
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Saudi Arabia's Finance Minister Mohammed Al Jadaan has said the kingdom's investments in Iran could happen “very quickly” following an agreement to restore diplomatic ties.

Last Friday, a deal to thaw relations was publicly brokered by China, although talks between the two countries had taken place for several years in Iraq and Oman.

“There are a lot of opportunities for Saudi investments in Iran. We don't see impediments, as long as the terms of any agreement would be respected,” Mr Al Jadaan said during the Financial Sector Conference in Riyadh on Wednesday.

Last week, Saudi Arabia’s government said that the kingdom’s gross domestic product had soared to more than $1 trillion, breaking records amid a surge in oil prices.

Iran’s economy has suffered from decades of international trade sanctions, which were only briefly eased during a deal between Tehran and world powers to curb its nuclear programme.

But the country’s oil exports have surged, said Oil Minister Javad Owji earlier this month.

According to the International Energy Agency, the country bought in about $58 billion in revenue this month, slightly below their estimated budgetary break-even requirement of about $60 billion.

“Stability in the region is very important, for the world and for the countries in the region, and we have always said that Iran is our neighbour and we have no interest to have a conflict with our neighbours, if they are willing to co-operate,” Mr Al Jadaan later told Reuters in an interview.

Countries in the region, as well as the US and western allies, have been increasingly concerned over Iran’s efforts to supply proxy forces with sophisticated arms, including Houthi rebels in Yemen and Iraqi militias.

China and the US have subsequently welcomed efforts to reduce tension.

“We have no reason not to invest in Iran, and we have no reason not to allow them to invest in Saudi Arabia. It is in our interest to make sure that both nations benefit from each others resources and competitive advantage,” Mr Al Jadaan said.

“If they [Iran] are willing to go through this process, then we are more than willing to go through this process and show them they are welcome, and we would be more than happy to participate in their development,” he said.

Saudi Arabia cut ties with Iran in 2016 after its embassy in Tehran was stormed during a dispute between the two countries over Riyadh's execution of a prominent Shiite Muslim cleric.

The kingdom also has blamed Iran for missile and drone attacks on its oil complexes in 2019, as well as attacks on tankers in Gulf waters.

Iran has denied the charges.

Both sides have agreed to reactivate a 2001 security agreement, which covers co-operation in fighting drugs, smuggling and organised crime, as well as another earlier pact on trade, economy and investment.

“Resuming diplomatic relations does not mean we are allies … Diplomatic relations are the norm for Saudi Arabia, and we should have them with everybody,” Mr Al Jadaan said.

Updated: March 16, 2023, 9:41 AM