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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Theresa May to seek post-Brexit opportunities for British business on Riyadh visit

PM is also expected to asking her hosts to allow humanitarian aid through Yemen's port of Hodeida

Mrs May is seeking opportunities for greater cooperation with Riyadh from Vision 2030. SPA
Mrs May is seeking opportunities for greater cooperation with Riyadh from Vision 2030. SPA

British prime minister Theresa May arrived in Saudi Arabia for talks on Wednesday with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud as London seeks to opportunities for greater cooperation with Riyadh from Vision 2030.

After landing on her RAF Voyager plane, the Conservative prime minister was set to meet with the Crown Prince and speak to leading architects of his reform plans.

"He is somebody who has a very clear vision of 2030 for Saudi Arabia,” Mrs May declared on her travels. "We've already seen some changes taking place in Saudi Arabia, for example women being allowed to drive.

"It's important we work with him on delivering that vision.

“We need to ensure that we’re building stable partnerships to ensure our security, and there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s in Britain’s national interest to work with Jordan and Saudi Arabia,’’ she added. “It’s in their security interests but also in ours. We want to help them to address regional challenges but also to put through the reforms that they have to ensure their long-term stability.’’

May's visit is also expected to include her asking the Saudi First Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister to allow humanitarian aid through Yemen's port of Hodeida, which is held by the Houthi rebels being targeted in the war.

British Prime Minister Theresa May arrived in Saudi Arabia for talks in Riyadh. SPA
British Prime Minister Theresa May arrived in Saudi Arabia for talks in Riyadh. SPA

"We are very clear that we want to see full humanitarian and commercial access through the port of Hodeida," May said. "Obviously that is an issue I will be raising when I am in Saudi Arabia."

"This visit demonstrates that as the UK leaves the EU we are determined to forge a bold, confident future for ourselves in the world after leaving the European Union," said May’s spokesperson.

British officials believe there will be openings to provide commercial, cultural and civil service support for the Saudi Arabian government as it pursues reforms of its economy and government structures under the Crown Prince’s ambitious blue print.

Mrs May left Jordan on Wednesday after meeting with King Abdullah II and Prime Minister Hani Mulki. Both countries were eager to build on ties with Britain as modernisation programmes were rolled out to address local challenges. "It is clearly in the UK’s security interests to support Jordan and Saudi Arabia in tackling regional challenges to create a more stable region, and in delivering their ambitious reform programmes to ensure their own stability," he added.

Theresa May's trip to the Middle East and Gulf took in Baghdad on Thursday. Reuters
Theresa May's trip to the Middle East and Gulf took in Baghdad on Thursday. Reuters

On a visit to the same countries in April, Mrs May said deep and effective cooperatio with the Gulf leaderships was a top priority for her government. "Rather than just standing on the sidelines and sniping, it's important to engage, to talk to people, to talk about our interests and to raise, yes, difficult issues when we feel it's necessary to do so,” she said. “This is important for us in terms of security, they are importance for us in terms of defence and yes, in terms of trade.

"As I said when I came to the Gulf at the end of last year, Gulf security is our security and Gulf prosperity is our prosperity."

The premier last visited Saudi Arabia she was accompanied by London Stock Exchange Group Plc Chief Executive Officer Xavier Rolet, who pitched London as the venue for Saudi Aramco’s initial public offering. Mr Rolet resigned his position on Wednesday but the British exchange remains in the running for the listing.