- Saudi Arabia’s investments revolutionising Pakistan’s energy, IT, banking and agriculture sectors
Interview with engineer Khadim Hussain — Director, RBS Associates (Pvt) Ltd
PAGE: Could you tell us about yourself?
Khadim Hussain: I own a firm which provides insurance survey and valuation services nationally and internationally. I am holder of the memberships and licences of local and foreign bodies such as ASO from SECP, PEC, IEP, ISO & PMI.
I have vast experience of approximately 18 years in the field of valuation as project leader and lead evaluator in mega projects like Sugar Mills, Steel Mills, Textile Mills and Auto Mobile companies. I have been simultaneously rendering my professional expertise in the insurance survey of Marine, Motor, Fire and other miscellaneous businesses.
While conducting such mega projects of insurance and valuation, I have been engaged with several banks of Pakistan including the State Bank of Pakistan and National Bank of Pakistan. I have worked with almost each bank and financial organisations working on the financial investments on the mega projects.
In this scenario I do see the economic conditions of Pakistan in deep and can assess the economic atmosphere of Pakistan in the light of our relations with foreign countries in the view of different investments by Asian Development Bank, World Bank and our other countries which have friendly and supporting relations with Pakistan which includes China, Gulf Countries, KSA etc.
PAGE: Could you share your perspective about Pakistan’s relations with Saudi Arabia and Muslim world in particular and furthermore how could Pakistan address its economic woes?
Khadim Hussain: Pakistan and Saudi Arabia relations are based on solid foundations of Islamic ideology and traditional Islamic values further, being defined to be exclusive, strategic and cordial due to multiple factors in diplomatic fields: i.e. political, social, economic and strategic corporation, bilateral resolve and assured support. The foundational ideology of Pakistan contributed to putting forward both countries together and their people on account of having high-ranking political status among Muslim world. Both the countries have a great history of corporation as particularly both countries are predominantly Muslims. Pakistan and Saudia Arabia have engaged in military corporation that includes training programmes, joint exercises and the sale of military equipment additionally Pakistani military troops are being provided for security proposes.
Both the countries have diplomatically been an ally on international platforms such as Organisation of Islamic Corporation (OIC) where consistent support of Pakistan been perceived including endorsing the position of Saudi Arabia on regional and global issues. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia has been a main supporter of Pakistan such as in providing financial assistance and aid during hard times of Pakistan.
Economic ties significantly extended due to investments in various developmental projects mainly in the field of infrastructure and energy, which further created job opportunities and reduced inflation and hunger. Saudi Arabia has been supplying oil and petroleum as well as helping meet the country’s energy needs.
In the nutshell, the bilateral relationships between Pakistan and Saudia Arabia are characterised by historical ties, diplomatic support, economic corporation, religious values and shared cultures conversely, challenges arise from time to time but both the countries always try to enhance and maintain their relationship for mutual benefit.
Food security critically is a complex and interconnected issue that recently is being faced by the entire world. It requisites collaboration and commitment of governments, international organisations, private sectors and NGOs to create a sustainable food system. The global population is increasing and meeting the food needs is a significant challenge moreover, climate change has been causing severe weather events such as floods and droughts that further disrupts agricultural production.
Agricultural potential and growth
Pakistan could potentially and significantly benefit from Saudi investment. Agriculture in Pakistan has been seen as the biggest labour employer and crucial sector but to bring this sector on the track, Pakistan invited Saudi investors. Due to highly positive bilateral relationships, Saudi Arabia companies and investors including Al-Tamami group of companies and many more brought investment opportunities in diary and livestock. Saudi Arabia can help increase crop yields and improve production quality via investing modern technologies, expertise and practices. Investments in irrigation systems, transportation networks and storage facilities would make easier to produce, store and transport their products efficiently for farmers. Diversification would eliminate reliance on a few key crops instead the main focus to be on high value cash crops, fruits and vegetables.
Pakistan further needs investments to reduce water scarcity issues because efficient water management is highly important for sustainable agricultural growth. Further, the investments will certainly create jobs to eradicate unemployment. Collaborated research and developmental projects in the fields of biotechnology, food sciences and nutrition can lead the creation of good foods that would drive innovation in agricultural sector.
Saudi’s investments in food security could enhance agricultural productivity and infrastructure via ensuring a consistent food supply which further may reduce environmental adverse impacts of farming and promote organic farming, proper use of resources and responsible land management. Transfer of technical knowledge and skills to Pakistani farmers can also facilitate in improving farming practices by Saudi Arabia’s investments.
Opening of more projects
Crucially, Pakistan sees Saudi’s investments agreements positively ensuring alignment of long-term agricultural and food security goals.
Saudi Arabia has been an essential economic and investments partner in multiple sectors, i.e. energy, information technology, banking and mining which further affirmatively signified implications for Pakistan. The agreements such as Saudi Fund for Development (SFD), Ma’aden agreement (Saudi Arabia mining company) and so forth has boosted Pakistan’s economy in past, however, Pakistan needs more investments projects.
Saudi investments in multiple sectors can regulate assertive environment to meet the ability to manage and utilise the funds effectively. Additionally, it is evidently necessary such investments that align their long-term economic and strategic goals and promote transparency to acquire international best practices for better and mutual benefits.
Energy sector in Pakistan needs international investments for which Saudi Arabia kept supporting and has been providing oil and gas exploration since decades for better infrastructure development that further strengthen energy corporation in the past and will continue with more investments for enhancing Pakistan’s energy security too.
Pakistan has been lacking in information technology sector but now with investments it is regarded as a successful sector economically and has increased at a rate of 18 per cent per year and further expected to reach $7 billion this year. Saudi Arabia should help promote digital transformation in Pakistan to export of IT services to international markets. Pakistan needs investments in banking sector that can lead to the expansion of financial services and enhance access to banking moreover, it can further facilitate economic growth and financial inclusion. This is amazingly possible with Saudi investments.
On the other hand, my standpoint regarding the investments of Saudi Arabia in the sector of mining are greatly needed for revenue generation and increased exports; it can further contribute for sustainable development.
The economic stability of any country critically depends upon foreign exchange reserves that help a nation’s ability to meet its international financial obligations, stabilise its currency and maintain confidence in its economy, in this regard, deposits made by Saudi Arabia into State Bank of Pakistan help bolster Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves. The decision is generally a sovereign, from which both the countries receive benefits and considerations. As Saudi Arabia deposits bolster Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves that stabilise currency, service international debt and pay for imports. For instance, Saudi Fund for Development confirmed a rollover of $3 billion deposit for SBP in 2022 for one year, which secured external financing to shore up the foreign exchange reserves. Hence, large foreign deposits show confidence in Pakistan’s economic and financial stability that further attracted potentially more foreign investment. Moreover, short-term needs are fulfilled in a balanced way via such deposits cover unexpected external shocks.