UK and Saudi Arabia sign deal to boost science and tech research ties

Ministers reach agreement aimed at forging closer links on scientific and technological endeavours

A nanosatellite built by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. Photo: Kausat
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Saudi Arabia and the UK have signed an agreement that aims to strengthen ties between the two countries in a wide area of scientific and technological research.

UK government Science Minister Andrew Griffith and Saudi Arabia's Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Abdullah Alswaha, signed the deal in Riyadh on Monday.

It is hoped the agreement will lead to more collaboration on research and development on projects from food security to clean energy.

Mr Griffith is in Saudi Arabia to attend Leap 2024, the leading global technology conference also known as the "Digital Davos". He will meet senior figures from some of the kingdom's most promising sectors, such as space and life sciences.

"The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is on an ambitious journey to modernise its economy and harnessing the power of science and technology is central to that transformation," Mr Griffith said.

"This is a huge opportunity for UK businesses, scientists and researchers."

Scientific and technological endeavours are a major part of Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030, the country's multibillion-dollar effort to diversify its economy.

Saudi Arabia’s aspirations

The deal sets out a framework for collaboration between the UK and Saudi Arabia across several tech sectors for advancements to be made in health care, combating climate change, development of space technology and capability, and more.

There are also plans to hold regular meetings, which will bring together key decision-makers from both countries’ research sectors, the first of which will take place later this year.

"Collaboration on a global scale is an essential part of realising the UK’s ambitions in science and innovation," Mr Griffith said.

"The sheer scale of Saudi Arabia’s aspirations means this relationship will be a key part of our own hopes for science and tech in the years to come."

Britain already has strong and significant economic links with Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic) and Alfanar have committed to investing a combined total of £1.85 billion ($2.35 billion) into decarbonisation and clean-energy technology in Teesside in the north-east of England.

In January, the UK and Saudi Arabian governments discussed plans regarding possible future joint ventures in space and innovation, including the potential to invest in the development of space-based solar power.

Updated: March 04, 2024, 12:16 PM