The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has won the support of the 15-nation Caribbean Community to stage the highly profitable world trade expo in 2030 following its first summit with regional leaders in Riyadh this week.
As a bloc, CARICOM has 14 votes it could give to the Saudis at the United Nations when the General Assembly convenes to vote for the 2030 venue in the coming weeks. The Saudis had fully sponsored the visit of CARICOM leaders for the two-day summit that ended late Thursday. Montserrat, still a British colony, cannot vote independently. Both sides have billed the conference as a major success as it has now put relations on a formal footing with a series of follow up meetings planned in the coming months.
Following the summit, The Saudis have pledged significant investment in the region as it sees the Caribbean “as a high priority” area for investment opportunities for the Kingdom. This includes the possibility of direct flights between Saudi Arabia and Caribbean nations.
During the meeting and side bar consultations, St. Vincent was able to sign off on a $50 million deal for the rehabilitation of several pieces of infrastructure that was damaged by annual storms in recent years, while St. Kitts and Nevis was able to cash in on a $40 million arrangement to expand capacity at the Needsmust Power Plant. The Saudis said they have granted millions in long term loans to the region in the past 40 years covering 25 projects and many more are to follow in the wake of the summit.
The Kingdom and the region are also to explore the feasibility of direct commercial flights to some CARICOM destinations with an eye on the tourism market.
The trade expo is an important event for host nations as it brings in billions in revenues and attracts thousands of thousands and business people held in Dubai had netted the United Arab Emirates at least $42 billion and had pulled in 24 million visitors during a six-month period.