24 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS CHINA • 亚洲法律杂志-中国版 JUNE 2023 FOREIGN INVESTMENT: MIDDLE EAST The Middle East stretches from the southern and eastern parts of the Mediterranean to the coast of the Persian Gulf, among which the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, comprising the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia, have the greatest potential for investment cooperation. According to the latest report from Investment Monitor, the region continued to attract foreign capital inflows over the past three years, registering FDI growth of 13.6 per cent in 2022. Against this backdrop, the Middle East has also become a hot destination for Chinese companies venturing abroad. A 2022 report by PricewaterhouseCoopers states that as Middle East is an important region for cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative, Chinese companies have been gradually deepening partnership with companies there, and that nearly half of the 118 Chinese companies covered in the report have been operating in the Middle East for over a decade. In particular, Saudi Arabia, the largest economy in the Middle East, has now become one of the two major investment destinations there alongside the UAE. eWTP Arabia Capital, a local Chinese investment firm based in Saudi Arabia, welcomed more than 500 visiting Chinese companies and institutions last year, and the cooperation between China and Saudi Arabia is expected to reach new heights this year. Lin Wei, Managing Partner of P.C. Woo & Zhonglun W.D. LLP, has similar observations. “Saudi Arabia is an important economy in the Middle East, registering GDP of $1.1 trillion billion in 2022. In addition, the country is rich in natural resources, and has a vast market and great potential, which explains the sustained interest of Chinese investors in recent years.” In addition, during the China-Arab Summit last December, leaders of China and Saudi Arabia signed the first Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement between the People’s Republic of China and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. With China’s Belt and Road Initiative and Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 strategies in increasing alignment, the level of China has embarked on new diplomatic outreaches in the post-pandemic era, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is beginning to play an increasingly important role, becoming a new destination of choice for Chinese companies keen to invest overseas. Legal experts, however, caution that despite the abundant opportunities there, prospective investors must make early preparation for risks. BY CHARLIE WU 疫情后时代,中国重新启动外交新格局,沙特阿拉伯开始扮演愈发重要的角色,成为中国企业海外投资目的地的 新选择。法律专家提醒:投资沙特机遇虽多,也要提前做好风险布局。 作者:吴卓言 CRACKING THE KINGDOM 出海沙特 Image: Mohammed younos/