RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - Russia is to strengthen its tourism ties with Saudi Arabia, with both countries planning significant invesments in tourism projects.
"Saudi investments into Russia, including those into tourism, are set to grow in the near future," the CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund Kirill Dmitriev, told journalists in Riyadh on Monday.
"The Russian-Chinese-Saudi Fund will also make investments into tourism in Saudi Arabia with backing from the Saudi government," he added.
Dmitriev is in Saudi Arabia for discussions on the mutual investment plans.
"Nearly 6 million tourists travel to Turkey annually, around three million visitors come to Egypt. We want more and more to come here to Saudi Arabia," he said.
"We'd like most of our on-stage groups, including the Mariinsky Theatre, to visit Saudi Arabia more often."
"The kingdom had been closed for international tourists for many years. Now it is opening an enormous potential for many countries, including Russia," Dmitriev said.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who enjoys a close, personal relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, hosted a launch on Sunday of a number of mega tourist projects in the ancient Saudi desert city of al-Ula, at which Dmitriev was a guest.
The Russian executive was one of those that braved the political climate in October last year in the wake of the Jamal Khashoggi killing, and attended the crown prince's Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh. His comments then indicate his country's interest in Saudi Arabia is not limited to tourism.
"We believe Saudi Arabia has a lot of investment potential and supports the process of transformative and historical reforms in the kingdom. In particular, we support Vision 2030, which is significant not only for the economy and people of the kingdom but for the Middle East region and the whole world," he told Arab News on 23 October 2018.
He said such partnerships include links with Saudi Arabia's PIF and Aramco, with which RDIF has embarked on a number of initiatives in energy and infrastructure.
"From the Russian perception, Saudi Arabia is a great partner. It is not just about energy and oil, but about the historic vision and transformation," he said.
RDIF and PIF have been working together for four years. They have invested over $2 billion together and are now considering over ten new projects totaling more than $1 billion, Dmitriev said.
"The industries benefitting from these investments range from sectors including petrochemicals, industrial manufacturing, logistics, infrastructure and technology," he said.
"Currently, we are discussing the opportunity to jointly implement some projects in Saudi Arabia in different sectors. The projects are related to the localization of petrochemical production, the provision of service contracts and the subsequent creation of joint ventures. RDIF and our partners can bring billions of dollars of investment to the Kingdom."