SBJBC UK meeting with Jersey Finance

UK Director Chris Innes-Hopkins visited Jersey on 6 July at the invitation of new SBJBC UK member Jersey Finance, which represents the Island’s important financial services industry.  He gave a presentation on Vision 2030 and implications for Saudi/UK trade to some 30 Jersey Finance members at a well attended breakfast meeting.  He also met a number of investment and wealth management companies during the day, many of whom have longstanding Saudi and GCC relationships.


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Find more information about Jersey’s links with the GCC here.


SBJBC UK Annual General Meeting reaffirms importance of Saudi/UK trade relations

UK members of the Saudi British Joint Business Council (SBJBC UK) reaffirmed the importance of Saudi/UK trade and investment relations at their annual general meeting in London on 29 June.

They welcomed the statement by Saudi Foreign Minister, HE Adel Al-Jubeir, in Paris on 28 June, to the effect that Britain’s decision to leave the European Union would not have a major impact on Saudi/UK relations, and that Saudi Arabia would continue to have very strong ties with the UK in all areas.

Members noted the importance of the UK continuing with business as normal, notwithstanding the recent EU referendum outcome. They looked forward to their Joint Business Council meeting in London on 20 July, and an active autumn programme of events with their Saudi colleagues following the recent launch of Saudi Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Programme.

Members also welcomed Lord King of Bridgwater, the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Saudi Arabia, to the meeting as well as representatives of UK Trade & Investment and the British Chambers of Commerce.

Britain’s decision to leave the European Union will not affect relations with Saudi Arabia, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said on 28 June

“We don’t believe that the exit of Britain from the EU will have a major impact on our relationship with Great Britain,” al-Jubeir told reporters at a news conference in Paris.

“And so this is something that we follow. We will continue to have very strong ties with Great Britain in all areas as we will with the rest of the European countries,” he added at a joint news conference with French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.”


For more information please refer to this Reuters report.

Saudi National Transformation Programme 2020 Launched

NTP 2020 logo

In order to build the intuitional capacity and capabilities needed to achieve the ambitious goals of “Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030”, the National Transformation Program 2020 has been launched across 24 government bodies operating in the economic and development sectors. The Programme will run from 2016 to 2020.

Within the first year, 543 initiatives have already been approved. The overall programme cost for the government is around £54 billion, 40% of funding expected is come from the private sector.

Key Objectives:

–       Strengthening partnerships with the private sector

–       Creating more than 450,000 non-governmental jobs by 2020

–       Maximising Local Content and reducing dependence on imports across all sectors

–       Develop the digital infrastructure, activate economic sectors, support industries and private sector entities, and advocate for the development of public-private business models. This is the overarching theme of digital transformation

In order to achieve these core objectives, the National Transformation Programme identifies three improvements that need to be made to increase the level of professionalism in Saudi: transparency, institutionalisation and specialized support.


–       Phase One: Identifying the Challenges Faced by Each Government Entity in Fulfilling the Vision and Establishing 2020 Interim Targets

–       Phase Two: Developing Initiatives Designed to Reach the Strategic Objectives

–       Phase Three: Developing Detailed Implementation Plans for the Initiatives

–       Phase Four: Promoting Transparency in the Publication of Targets and Outcomes

–       Phase Five: Auditing, Continually Improving, Launching New Initiatives, and Adding New Participating Entities

SBJBC attends International Festival of Business

On Thursday 16th June, SBJBC travelled to Liverpool to attend the International Festival of Business. The focus of the day was ‘Meet your Global Network’.


SBJBC Director, Chris Innes-Hopkins, participated a lively and informative Middle East Panel Discussion, alongside representatives from the UAE, Qatar and Middle East. The Panel explored the wealth of opportunity in the Middle East, with Chris emphasising the changing market as a result of Saudi Arabia’s 2030 Vision. Following this, SBJBC had 15 one on one meetings with companies interested in expanding into the Saudi Arabian market.







Saudi Oxbridge Alumni Association Established

HRH Prince Faisal bin Salman bin Abdulaziz (Governor of Medinah) presided at the inaugural meeting of Saudi Oxbridge Alumni at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies on 23 May.  The meeting was attended by Saudi Ambassador HRH Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf, the Lord Lieutenant and Lord Mayor of Oxford, and a number of Saudi Oxbridge graduates.   Chris Innes-Hopkins, Executive Director, represented SBJBC.  The new association plans a number of activities and will meet again under Prince Faisal’s chairmanship in Medinah later this year.

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SBJBC UK achieves BCC Quality Mark standard for the provision of Trade Services

SBJBC UK was awarded a Quality Mark standard for the provision of Trade Services by the British Chambers of Commerce Global Accreditation Board on 3 May.   The award followed a review of SBJBC UK’s internal governance and services by an independent assessor.   SBJBC UK is a member of the BCC’s Global Business Network as well as a UKTI Trade Challenge Partner,  and will be working towards full BCC accreditation within the next two years.

J5227 - Brand Campaign 2016


Euromoney Saudi Arabia Conference debates Vision 2030 challenges

Euromoney’s 11th Saudi Arabia Conference in Riyadh on 3-4 May attracted a strong turn-out of international and Saudi delegates.  Speakers including the Ministers of Finance, Commerce and Labour as well as the Head of the Capital Markets Authority and the Stock Exchange.    There was keen interest in plans to build a post-oil economy as outlined in Vision 2030.   UK Executive Director Chris Innes-Hopkins joined the SMEs panel which included discussion of recent SBJBC initiatives, and where UK experience may be helpful in this important sector.

Watch the video link here!


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Deputy Crown Prince launches ambitious Saudi 2030 Vision

The Saudi Council of Ministers approved an ambitious plan to diversify and modernise the Saudi economy on 25 April.   Entitled “Vision 2030”,  the plan aims to substantially increase the role of the private sector in the economy and lessen the country’s future dependence on oil.   Deputy Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman headed the team drawing up the Vision, and it will be followed by a more detailed National Transformation Plan due to be published in late May.   Click here to learn more about this ambitious plan. 





Strong interest in Saudi Opportunities at Middle East trade events in West and East Midlands

UK Executive Director Chris Innes-Hopkins represented SBJBC at a well attended conference at Walsall Football Club on 18 April organised by the Black Country Chamber of Commerce, with the support of UKTI and the Middle East Association.    Some 100 companies from the West Midlands participated, and 15 of these attended one to one sessions on Saudi opportunities in the afternoon.   The event coincided with UKTI ‘s Export Week, and helped to raise awareness of growth sectors and opportunities across the Middle East & North Africa.   SBJBC member Richard Banks also spoke at a Saudi focussed event organised by the East Midlands International Trade Association in Grantham.  Excellent feedback has been received from the participating companies, and SBJBC is following up a number of enquiries..


Chris with Andy Smith, UKTI's Overseas Business Networks Coordinator for the West Midlands

Chris with Andy Smith, UKTI’s Overseas Business Networks Coordinator for the West Midlands

Baroness Symons Meets Key Saudi Ministers on visit to Riyadh

Baroness Symons, UK Co-Chair of the SBJBC, visited Riyadh on 6- 8 March for an intensive programme of meetings. Calls were made on Dr. Tawfig Al-Rabiah, Minister of Commerce and Industry; Abdulatif AlOthman, Governor of SAGIA, Khalid Hussan, Head of the Saudi Stock Exchange and Dr. Abdulrahman AlZamil, Chairman of the Council of Saudi Chambers.

It was an excellent opportunity to discuss SBJBC’s possible input into the Saudi Government’s ambitious National Transformation Plan on which she was briefed by  Dr. Ibrahim Babelli, Adviser to the Minister of Economy and Planning,. Other meetings focused on infrastructure financing, SME co-operation and Offset following recent SBJBC initiatives.   It was agreed that SBJBC will participate in the next Saudi/UK Joint Ministerial Council meeting being planned in May to review trade and economic cooperation.

Baroness Symons in front of an English language promotion bus at the Olayan head quarters

Baroness Symons in front of an English language promotion bus at the Olayan head quarters


Meeting with Dr. Tawfig Al-Rabiah, Minister of Commerce and Industry



Invest Northern Ireland Conference highlights Saudi Opportunities

SBJBC participated in a very well attended conference on Middle East Opportunities at the Titanic Conference Centre in Belfast on 29 February.    Chris Innes-Hopkins participated in the Saudi panel alongside Alistair McIlroy, Al Marai Company;  Bill Waring, Nector International; Wissam Saadi, INI representative; and Adam Hosier, Arabian Enterprise Incubators.   Northern Ireland companies exported over £78 million of goods to Saudi Arabia in 2014, with transport and dairy equipment leading the way.  

Saudi panel in the conference "Growing Opportunities in the Middle East" organised by Invest Northern Ireland.

Saudi panel in the conference “Growing Opportunities in the Middle East” organised by Invest Northern Ireland.

SABIC to launch home of innovation programme

UK Executive Director, Chris Innes-Hopkins, visited SABIC‘s state-of-the-art Plastics Applications Development Centre (SPADC) at King Saud University Techno Valley Park in Riyadh on 27 January.  SPADC aims to develop new downstream applications and products that support SABIC‘s global business growth, as well as building closer links between academia and the industrial research community.  SABIC will also open a “Home of Innovation” centre shortly to promote collaboration with innovative Saudi and foreign companies with relevant technologies in key sectors including construction, automotive and consumer goods:


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SAGIA Global Competitiveness Forum focusses on economic diversification


  The SAGIA annual forum is the Saudi version of Davos, and the focus this year was on “Competitive Sectors”.   Khalid Al-Falih (Minister of Health & Chairman of Saudi Aramco) and Tawfiq Al-Rabiah (Minister of Commerce) were quizzed by Stephen Sackur of the BBC on current challenges in attracting investment and opening up the economy to increased private sector participation.  Amongst the plethora of international speakers were Stephen Attenborough, Commercial Director of Virgin Galactic, and leading US investors (


Khalid Al-Falih, Minister of Health and Chairman of Saudi Aramco, in conversation with Stephen Sakur at GCF 2016

 Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud in a lively discussion of social enterprise with Zeinab Badawi of the BBC at GCF 2016

Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud in a lively discussion of social enterprise with Zeinab Badawi of the BBC at GCF 2016

Dr Tawfiq Al Rabiah, Minister of Commerce and Industry in conversation with Stephen Sackur of the BBC at SAGIA's Global competitiveness forum in Riyadh

Dr Tawfiq Al Rabiah, Minister of Commerce and Industry in conversation with Stephen Sackur of the BBC at SAGIA’s Global competitiveness forum in Riyad











SBJBC and British Expertise members meet new Head of Saudi National Project Management Office

SBJBC and British Expertise members held an informal meeting on 12 January with Ali Al Zaid, Chairman of Al Zaid Engineering Consultants and former Saudi SBJBC Vice Chair.  Eng Al Zaid was visiting London in his capacity as Head of the Saudi national project management office.  Members expressed a willingness to exchange experience on infrastructure planning and public private partnerships with the new office.   A call was also arranged on the new UK Infrastructure and Projects Authority.  


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Saudi British Joint Business Council
23 Grafton Street,
London W1S 4EY
Telephone: +44(0) 20 7824 1933
c/o Council of Saudi Chambers
King Fahad Branch Rd, Al Mutamarat, Riyadh 12711