Published: 01:36, July 3, 2023 | Updated: 09:45, July 3, 2023
HK, Saudi Arabia boost I&T cooperation with new deals
By Jan Yumul and Lesley Liu in Hong Kong

Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu (sixth from left) hosts a welcome dinner for Abdullah Alswaha, Saudi Arabia’s minister of communications and information technology (fifth from left), and his 30-member entourage on Sunday. At the reception, 11 Hong Kong companies signed memorandums of understanding with eWTPA Arabia Capital. The Saudi Arabia-China Entrepreneurs Association also announced that it will set up its first Asian office in Hong Kong. (PHOTO / HKSAR GOVERNMENT)

Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia have boosted their collaboration in the information and technology sector with the visit of Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah Alswaha and the signing of various agreements on Sunday.

Welcoming the Saudi delegation, Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu said he has felt “a deep sense of warmth and friendship” in the exchanges since his visit to Saudi Arabia in February.

Lee said that Hong Kong’s annual Belt and Road Summit will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative in September and will feature a dedicated Middle East forum for the first time.

“Saudi Arabia’s ‘Vision 2030’ is built on innovation and technology. Hong Kong shares that vision,” Lee said. “I welcome our friends from Saudi Arabia and the Middle East to join us from building an innovative future right here in Hong Kong.”

The chief executive said that during their stay in Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong businesses signed six memorandums of understanding and letters of intent with Saudi organizations, and since then, a number of Hong Kong companies have followed up with Saudi businesses, exploring opportunities in sectors such as banking, investments and architecture.

If there’s a gateway for humanity and a partnership for life to join hands and how we can continue to empower people, safeguard the planet, it is definitely this partnership between the kingdom and Hong Kong.

Abdullah Alswaha, Saudi minister of communications and information technology 

“Saudi Arabia’s Future Investment Initiative Institute, or FII Institute, which has been organizing its various annual global gatherings in Riyadh, will host its first priority Asia summit right here in Hong Kong this December. I very much look forward to that and to its great success,” Lee said.

The chief executive said Hong Kong champions free trade and is committed to promoting high-quality development. He also said his government has prioritized revitalizing its relations with the Middle East in general and Saudi Arabia in particular.

He also shared that Hong Kong’s innovation and technology development blueprint, released six months ago, outlined the city’s commitment to new industrialization and its rise as an international I&T center.

“They include integrating into the overall development of our country and consolidating our role as a bridge connecting the mainland and the world. We are well on our way to doing just that,” Lee said, adding that Hong Kong now boasts about 4,000 startups and 10 unicorns — privately held startups with a value of over $1 billion each.

The chief executive then invited the Saudi delegation to explore opportunities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. Lee said his government is also boosting technology collaboration between Hong Kong “and our fellow cities in the Greater Bay Area”, the cluster city development integrating Hong Kong, Macao and nine cities in Guangdong province.

“The Greater Bay Area unites some 86 million consumers and (has) a GDP of about $1.7 trillion. The GBA market presents boundless opportunities for tech companies, startups and talent. I welcome our friends from Saudi Arabia and the Middle East to join us in building an innovative future right here in Hong Kong,” Lee said.

Alswaha, the Saudi minister, said he is ready to join hands and harmonize Saudi Arabia’s “Vision 2030” with the BRI, led by Chinese President Xi Jinping. 

Alswaha said it is an opportunity for Saudi Arabia to diversify to a factor-based economy “to join hands with you and build an innovation bridge and a gateway for humanity”.

He said that with Hong Kong and the entire China startup community, Saudi Arabia has delivered the largest, most sustainable eco-tourism project — the Red Sea Project.

Earlier, the Saudi minister toured the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corp (HKSTP) and interacted with startup company executives.

“If there’s a gateway for humanity and a partnership for life to join hands and how we can continue to empower people, safeguard the planet, it is definitely this partnership between the kingdom and Hong Kong,” he said.

Joining them at the event, titled “One Gateway Shared Vision — Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia”, were co-hosts HKSTP and eWTP Arabia Capital.

HKSTP Chairman Sunny Chai Ngai-chiu said that Hong Kong and Saudi markets offer complementary values.

“I’m proud to see our park companies grow in our city and scale into Saudi Arabia, as well as the new paths being paved for Saudi companies to come to Hong Kong. Greater collaboration, understanding and partnership will only offer mutual benefits for the development of innovation and technology for both our markets,” Chai said.

Jerry Li, founding managing partner of eWTPA and director-general of the Saudi Arabia-China Entrepreneurs Association, said Hong Kong has the potential to play a role in technological advancements between China and Saudi Arabia.

He said that in the last nine months, they have hosted thousands of Chinese companies in Saudi Arabia, and more were coming from Hong Kong. 

“We have been working closely with the Hong Kong SAR government. We will bring the best company all over China through Hong Kong to Saudi Arabia,” Li said.

The occasion also announced the establishment of the Hong Kong office of the Saudi Arabia-China Entrepreneurs Association.

Eleven companies involved in the health, technology, artificial intelligence and hospitality fields from Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area were part of the memorandums of understanding. They are Aerosim (HK), D-Engraver, FJ Dynamics International, FreeD Group, GoGoChart Technology, Triavo Limited (Floship), XtalPi, Insilico Medicine, H World Group, New Horizon Health, and CIMC Enric.

Ahmed Altuwayjiri, chief of staff of the vice-minister’s office of Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, told participants of the Saudi strength in attracting investments and talent.

Nicolas Aguzin, CEO of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, said that investors around the world are aware of the economic importance of Asia. He said that as Saudi Arabia is diversifying its economy and moving from energy toward technology, Hong Kong is in a unique position to help with this as it is “the most international city of China”.

“In Hong Kong, we have the right channels, platforms, and products,” Aguzin said, adding that greater collaboration between China and the Middle East can help build connectivity and promote progress.

Contact the writers at