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RIYADH: During an interview with Arab News on the sidelines of the GREAT Futures Conference, UK Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden underlined London’s goal of reaching £30 billion ($37.7 billion) of bilateral trade by 2030.

“The idea of this (GREAT Futures Conference) is to be a sort of shop window to show the opportunities for our two countries and then out of that, I think there’s huge opportunities for further trade and investment,” he said.

“We set an ambitious goal by 2030 of £30 billion of bilateral trade. It’s already growing quite rapidly. It’s about £17 billion. I think we can push it to that.”

The two-day conference from May 14, hosted at King Abdullah Financial District, features 47 sessions and workshops with 127 speakers from both the public and private sectors.

The conference aims to spark and strengthen Saudi-UK partnerships in 13 sectors such as tourism, culture, education, health, sports, investment, trade and financial services.

It welcomed 450 British delegates and company heads to meet with Saudi businesses and officials.

Dowden said he that he thinks “the relationship between our two kingdoms is stronger than it’s ever been.

“It’s based on very firm foundations, whether that’s diplomatic, military or the relationship, indeed, between His Majesty (King Charles III) and (Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman) in the royal family of Saudi Arabia.”

Dowden underlined that what he has witnessed during the GREAT Futures Conference and through the previous visits is “the huge opportunities for the future.

“The crown prince has set out the Vision of 2030. UK companies … want to be part of that vision, and that’s why I’ve brought the largest trade delegation the UK has taken to any country in the world in the past decade, the largest ever, to Saudi Arabia,” he said.

In the opening remarks of day one, the deputy prime minister spoke on a panel alongside Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi, the Saudi minister of commerce.

He said there is a lot more that the two countries can do in the fields of technology and artificial intelligence.

“I think there’s a lot more we can do to collaborate together there because there’s huge expertise in artificial intelligence in Saudi Arabia,” Dowden said.

During his interview with Arab News Dowden also underlined that North East England is poised to receive investments worth £3 billion from the Kingdom.

“If you look at the North East of England, just one part of the UK, we’ve agreed £3 billion worth of investment that will support 2,000 jobs. I think there’s much more that we can do like that,” he said.

Leading up to the conference, the deputy prime minister stressed the importance of the event in building partnerships between the business sectors of Saudi Arabia and the UK.

“It (GREAT Futures) also allows British companies to familiarize themselves with relevant business regulations, incentives, and advantages for conducting business in Saudi Arabia,” Dowden said.

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