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Why is Saudi Arabia eyeing partnership with China in Pakistan refinery project?

As Islamabad looks to bring in more foreign investment from the Gulf, Saudi Arabia is looking to China for partnership in a key refinery in Pakistan.
A picture taken on December 7, 2022 in Riyadh, shows the Chinese and the Saudi flags adorning a street ahead of the Chinese president's visit to the Saudi capital.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — With Pakistan going through an economic crisis and a severe dollar shortage, Islamabad took the step in June to establish a Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), a one-window platform to fast-track decision-making and promote and facilitate foreign direct investments, to prioritize attracting Gulf investments. To help recover from economic turmoil, the plan was to entice "friendly countries" with high-value projects that would not be offered under normal circumstances. These high-value projects were first offered to Gulf countries.

As anticipated, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have shown interest in several sectors since the SIFC was founded, and Pakistan's care-taker Prime Minister Anwar-ul-Haqq Kakar said in September that the council was expected to attract $60-70 billion in foreign investment over the next three to five years. 

Since the SIFC's establishment, the UAE has taken the lead with deals in ports and shipping, Qatar expressed interest in airport management and Saudi Arabia plans to get more involved in mining and oil refining.

Riyadh looks east

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