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Saudi Prince’s security, media teams arrive

Top Story

February 12, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman (MBS), who will be reaching Islamabad on Sunday next for an overnight stay, would be staying in the Prime Minister’s House while other members of his huge entourage would be lodged in local hotels and the Punjab House.

Five trucks full of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's personal amenities have reached Islamabad. The Prince's exercise equipment, furniture and other personal belongings have reached Islamabad, while his security team and Saudi media representatives have also arrived in the capital ahead of his maiden visit.

The sources told The News/Jang here on Monday that the renovation of the official residence of the Prime Minister that started last week would be completed later this week for the Royal guest. Crown Prince Muhammad will be the first state guest to stay at the government building reserved for the prime minister of Pakistan.

The government has already announced to convert the building into a university but it is being used for hospitality till the plan is ready for its conversion. Outer security of the hotel where Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC) General Raheel Sharif is staying has been handed over to the army. Likewise, the army will be deployed at important points during the visit of Crown Prince Salman. Prime Minister Imran Khan will receive the Crown Prince at the airport. It has been stated that Saudi crown prince’s delegation will comprise about 1,100 officials and businessmen.

Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki is hectically engaged in fine-tuning the agreements to be signed during the visit of the Crown Prince.

Prince Muhammad bin Salman will be the guest of honour at international investment conference scheduled to be held here next week. According to sources, a 40-member Saudi delegation, and over 100 Saudi and Pakistani business leaders will attend the international event. The forum will deliberate on energy, petrochemicals, housing, tourism in Punjab and KP, as well as sign MoUs in this regard.

Negotiations will also be held to attract Saudi investment in Bahawalpur solar plants, and power plants in Haveli Bahadur Shah and Bhikki. Agreements on exploration of minerals in the poverty-stricken Balochistan are also expected to be signed. The sources hinted that 80 containers will be shipped to Islamabad for the Royal entourage’s stay. The vehicles to be used by the Crown Prince will reach here a day before his landing.

A record investment package being prepared by Riyadh for Islamabad will likely provide welcome relief while also addressing regional geopolitical challenges. At the heart of the investment is a reported $10 billion refinery and oil complex in the strategic Gwadar Port on the Arabian Sea, the ultimate destination for the massive multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which lies not far from the Indo-Iranian port of Chah Bahar. "The outcome of the talks so far has been very positive and this is going to be one of the biggest-ever Saudi investments in Pakistan," a senior finance ministry official said. During visit of the Saudi Crown Prince, both sides are ready to sign four memorandums of understanding (MoUs) worth $15 billion.

“We have finalised (arrangements) to sign three MoUs during the upcoming visit of the Saudi Crown Prince. These include establishment of Petrochemical Complex and Refinery at Gwadar with estimated investment of $10 billion with a capacity of 300,000 barrels of oil per day, alternate energy projects up to $2 billion, mineral development with no linkage on Rekodiq and there is also possibility of signing agreement for oil supply on deferred payment from Saudi Arabia,” two important ministers told a select group of reporters here on Monday.

The government plans to provide 20-year tax holiday on establishment of oil refinery at Gwadar. It is decision of KSA leadership to establish the refinery at the strategic location of Gwadar from where they could export surplus oil to China. The possibility of establishing oil pipeline is part of long-term vision but for the time being, the PTI regime has decided to move towards industrial and agriculture cooperation instead of focusing only on energy and infrastructure projects under CPEC.

However, official sources confirmed that the Saudi security officials had already reached Islamabad to ensure foolproof security on the visit of the Crown Prince. They had brought their own coaches and young security staff for required arrangements. The Crown Prince is expected to visit on afternoon and he will return on next day afternoon. He is supposed to visit four countries but will start his visit from Pakistan.

Prime Minister’s Adviser on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood and Chairman Board of Investment Haroon Sharif told selected reporters that the KSA and the UAE were taking a lot of interest in Pakistan and both were establishing refineries with investment of $6 billion separately. KSA, they said, was also considering to construct petrochemical complex so its investment might be increased close to $10 billion. They were of the view that the cost of oil refinery at Gwadar could not be ascertained yet because the technical studies going to be completed in next 15 to 18 months would give a clear picture of the exact cost of the project. For transportation of oil from Gwadar to Karachi, a pipeline will have to be constructed.

Both the ministers were of the view that Pakistan could become a hub of investment and economic activities as private businessmen delegation of over 40 CEOs of Aramco and other giants would be accompanying the crown prince in his upcoming visit. They said that Pakistan possessed the capacity to install three to four oil refineries and they agreed that the country would have to undertake governance reforms by enhancing capacity of civil service to absorb huge investments.

To another query, the ministers said that the bilateral ties with Qatar were moving in the right direction as they showed their interest to get export of human resource to meet their demands for upcoming football World Cup. They were of the view the country would be required to increase the number of projects keeping in view the interests of the Gulf region in Pakistan and they possessed plenty of surplus wealth that could be attracted through viable projects.

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