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Why Uzbekistan is increasingly looking to Turkey, Saudi Arabia for investment

Tashkent is trying to diversify energy sources and bring in fresh foreign investment, turning to both Turkey and Saudi Arabia to accomplish this.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) and Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev review the honour guard during a welcoming ceremony at the Presidential Complex in Ankara, Turkey on Feb. 19, 2020.

Uzbekistan is working to advance economic and investment partnerships with Turkey and Saudi Arabia and has recently secured projects totaling over $34.2 billion from the two. As it looks beyond its bigger neighbors like Russia and China to assert its independence, Tashkent is trying to diversify energy sources and bring in fresh foreign investment. 

For some time Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has been shying away from Chinese investment in the country, except when absolutely necessary. Instead, Qatar and Saudi Arabia were encouraged by Tashkent to get involved in the Uzbek energy sector, and Riyadh has been the largest investor in this field since 2020, helping the Central Asian country transition toward green energy.

While Russia has sought to create a Central Asian gas hub with both Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan since the fall of 2022, Tashkent has stayed away. Uzbek energy security is already dependent on Russia — which provides Uzbekistan with around 12 billion cubic meters of gas every year — and Moscow has considerable clout, so Tashkent has been looking toward West Asia for diversification.

Meanwhile, Ankara and Riyadh want to extend their influence in Central Asia. Turkey shares an ethnic Turkic-Islamic bond with Uzbekistan, and the kingdom is interested in having Central Asia as a key trade partner.

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