Greece on new economic diplomacy drive in Saudi Arabia

Greece, Saudi Arabia

Greece is picking up efforts to draw investments from Saudi Arabia, with the country's president Prokopis Pavlopoulos visiting Riyadh this week.

Along with 11 Greek ministers and a delegation of business people, Pavlopoulos met with top officials on Tuesday, including Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in a bid to draw Saudi investors and put Greece back on their radar.

Apart from the Astir Palace resort just out of Athens, there have been no new major investments in Greece by Saudi investors. A handful of Saudi nationals have bought Greek real estate, obtaining a residence permit Greece offers foreign investors, while ties between the two sides have focused on tourism and Greek food exports.

Unlike countries such as China and Germany, where investors are buying into key Greek infrastructure projects, such as ports and airports, at cheap prices this is not the case with Saudi Arabia, which has firepower to do so.

The conditions appear to be ripening, however, for this to change, according to some experts.

Saudi Arabia has launched its most pivotal economic reforms program in its 85 year modern history in a bid to move away from its oil based economy and this could be good news for Athens, said John Sfakianakis, director of economic research at the Gulf Research Center of Riyadh.

"Greece’s economic crisis requires it to search for new markets whilst Saudi Arabia’s diversification efforts can be strengthened with a trusted partner that is less than three hours away by plane," said Sfakianakis. "Greeks and Saudis have much more in common than meets the eye," he said.