By John Ensor •
Published: 08 Sep 2023 • 10:36
Stock image of Spanish wind farm.
Credit: Caron Badkin/Shutterstock.com
Recent figures appear to show that Spain’s commercial relationship with Saudi Arabia is intensifying.
The recent entry of Saudi Telecom into Telefonica’s shareholding, following an investment of €2.1 billion, certainly suggests so. This occurred in the backdrop of Saudi Arabian companies showing increased interest in Spain over the past decade, especially in sectors like energy, industry, real estate, and tourism, writes 20 Minutos.
Last year, the Saudi group Alfanar, a global wind energy leader, invested over €200 million to acquire a project of five wind farms in Navarra. This project boasts a combined power of 190 megawatts. Alfanar had previously secured 720 megawatts in a renewable energy auction in 2017, announcing an investment plan of over €600 million for wind farms across various Spanish regions.
Sabic, a plastics manufacturer with ties to Saudi Arabia’s state oil and gas company, Aramco, has a significant production centre in Cartagena. They’ve also recently partnered with Iberdrola to initiate a 100-megawatt photovoltaic solar installation, which, with its 263,000 panels, is Europe’s largest ‘on-site’ solar project.
In the realm of tourism, the Saudi Olayan family fund has acquired iconic hotels in Spain, including Madrid’s Ritz and Barcelona’s Madarin Oriental.
Conversely, Saudi Arabia has become a hotspot for Spanish investments. A notable project is the ‘AVE to Mecca’, involving a consortium of 12 Spanish companies, including big names like Talgo and OHL. Additionally, FCC is constructing three lines of Riyadh’s metro, while Acciona is spearheading various water-related projects in the country.
In defence, the Spanish subsidiary of Airbus has made its mark, and a significant contract was inked in July 2018 between Navantia and the Royal Saudi Navy. This deal, worth €1.8 billion, was for the supply of five Avante 2200 corvettes.
According to the Spanish Institute of Foreign Trade, 47 Spanish companies are currently operational in Saudi Arabia. In 2022, Spain’s exports to Saudi Arabia stood at €2,965 million, a 55 per cent increase from the previous year. Imports, largely driven by rising oil prices, surged by 72 per cent to €5,116 million, resulting in a trade deficit for Spain of €2,151 million.
However, Spain’s service exports to the Persian Gulf nations, estimated to be around €3,169 million in 2022, are of greater significance. It’s believed that at least half of this figure is attributed to Saudi Arabia.
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Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina.
He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.
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