Press release

UK committed to helping Saudi Arabia deliver vital reforms

The UK will provide expertise on education, healthcare and diversifying their economy to Saudi Arabia's ambitious reform programme.

Princess Reema with Prime Minister Theresa May.
Princess Reema with Prime Minister Theresa May.

The UK is set to become a leading partner for Saudi Arabia in delivering its ambitious ‘Vision 2030’ programme for internal reform and modernisation.

The Prime Minister will meet King Salman of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh today where they are expected to agree:

  • 6-monthly strategic dialogues between UK and Saudi foreign and trade ministers to maximise mutual prosperity and build on existing security, defence and intelligence cooperation

  • UK assistance to Saudi Arabia in building a reformed Ministry of Defence, reviewing Saudi defence capabilities and joint working across the Saudi armed forces

  • a new UK-Saudi policy dialogue on education to share best practice

  • a seminar led by UK experts on tax and privatisation standards, to help Saudi Arabia diversify its economy and become less reliant on oil

  • the sharing of healthcare best practice, including through the secondment of a UK expert based in Riyad

The Prime Minister is also due to meet Princess Reema today in Saudi Arabia. Princess Reema is Vice President of the Saudi General Sports Authority and is leading Saudi government efforts to increase diversity and participation in sport. Ahead of their meeting, the Prime Minister is set to announce that the UK will provide support to Saudi Arabia to increase opportunities for men and women across the country to participate in sport.

The Prime Minister and the King are also set to agree UK support to increase culture, leisure and entertainment opportunities for the Saudi public, including sharing our skills in audience development and marketing as well as helping them attract and build world-class cultural events.

The British Council’s ‘Contemporary Collective’ programme will train 6 young Saudi women in arts management, equipping them with the skills necessary to launch and run large scale cultural projects in the Kingdom.

Senior Cabinet members including the Chancellor, the International Secretary for Trade and the Foreign Secretary are expected to visit the Kingdom in the coming months to drive forward this important work across the board. The Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, Stephen Lovegrove, will also visit the Kingdom next month to progress discussions on Saudi defence reform.

Speaking ahead of her visit to Saudi Arabia, the Prime Minister said:

These new partnerships – on defence and security, trade and the economy, education, healthcare, culture and sport – evidence the breadth and depth of the UK’s relationship with Saudi Arabia.

We are firm supporters of Saudi Arabia’s ‘Vision 2030’, an ambitious blueprint for internal reform that aims to deliver greater inclusivity for all Saudi citizens – something we agree is essential to Saudi Arabia’s long-term stability and success.

As a world leader across a range of sectors, the UK is well placed to help Saudi Arabia deliver these vital reforms.

Further information

Saudi Arabia’s ‘Vision 2030’ is an ambitious blueprint for reform that expresses Saudi Arabia’s long-term goals and expectations, and is designed to build on its strengths and capabilities.

It is based on 3 pillars:

  • Saudi Arabia as the heart of the Arab and Islamic worlds
  • creating an investment powerhouse
  • building on its strategic position as a hub connecting 3 continents

Specific goals include:

  • raising the share of non-oil exports in non-oil GDP from 16% to 50%; raising non-oil government revenue from SAR 163 billion to SAR 1 trillion
  • increasing women’s participation in the workforce from 22% to 30%
  • to increase household spending on cultural and entertainment activities inside the Kingdom from the current level of 2.9% to 6%
Published 5 April 2017