Saudi Arabia Agrees to $100 Billion Investment Deal With India
Saudi Arabia has agreed to invest approximately $100 billion in trade and infrastructure projects in India over the next two years. Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi met on Wednesday to finalize agreements on such projects. The investments will also go towards housing, broadcasting and tourism projects.
The Crown Prince was greeted at the New Delhi airport by Modi, who also broke protocol by hugging MBS.
The two-day trip to India followed MBS’ recent trip to Pakistan, during which the Prince agreed to over $20 billion in investments. The projects in Pakistan will be focused on petrochemical, power generation, and mining. Moreover, the Prince’s trip is shadowed by tensions left by the recent Pulwama attack in India-administered Kashmir on Thursday, February 14.
The attack resulted in the death of 40 paramilitary officers after a car bomb explosion. Militant group Jaish-e-Muhammad has claimed responsibility for the explosion. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has denied any involvement with the attack.
"Saudi Arabia and India share views on increasing cooperation in counter-terrorism and tackling cyber crimes," stated Modi. MBS has pledged support in assisting India with combating terrorism and has agreed to share intelligence with the country.
The Prince echoed a similar sentiment following the Pulwama attack. “We face similar challenges, chief among them extremism and terrorism and we reaffirm to India that we are ready to work in the intelligence and political arenas to coordinate our efforts,” said MBS.
MBS has also agreed to release 850 Indian prisoners incarcerated in Saudi Arabia. Approximately 2,224 Indians are currently incarcerated in the Kingdom, according to the Indian Foreign Ministry. The Prince did the same during his trip to Pakistan, during which he ordered the immediate release of 2,100 incarcerated Pakistani prisoners.
The trip to Pakistan and India for MBS has also been a means to repair the damage to his reputation following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October.
"Prince Salman knows that Saudi Arabia's reputation has taken a major hit, and he's keen to demonstrate to the world that his country continues to have friends and do business," explained Michael Kugelman, a senior associate at the Wilson Center.
Saudi Arabia is an increasingly important ally for India. It recognizes India as one of its key eight strategic economic and political partners. Trade between the two countries generated about $27.5 billion in the past year.
"This MBS trip will take our relations to a new level. We already have substantial energy, political and economic ties," explained Talmiz Ahmad, a former envoy to Saudi Arabia from India. "We need to focus on regional security and stability which is a concern for both countries.
The kingdom also remains a large employer to overseas Indian labor. Approximately 2.7 million Indians work in Saudi Arabia, in sectors including construction and domestic services. India also receives 17 percent of its crude oil from Saudi Arabia, as well as one-third of its liquefied natural gas.
The Crown Prince arrived in Beijing, China on Thursday for another two-day trip following his trip to New Delhi. Talks are expected to focus on energy deals and economic agreements with China’s President Xi Jinping.