Britain to reform Saudi Arabia Defence sector: Theresa May
LONDON: Britain said Wednesday it would help Saudi Arabia to diversify its oil-dependent economy as British Prime Minister Theresa May visited the Gulf kingdom.
Saudi Arabia faces a significant budget deficit with billions of dollars in debts to private firms, largely in the construction business, after a drop in global oil prices by about half since 2014.
Britain will also assist Riyadh in “building a reformed Ministry of Defence” and reviewing defence capabilities, the statement said.
May is visiting the oil-rich kingdom as she seeks to secure investment and trade after Britain officially started a two-year countdown to leave the European Union.
But May has also come under harsh criticism for her visit to the ultra-conservative kingdom.
She has faced calls at home to raise rights issues with the kingdom’s leaders, primarily over Britain’s arms sales to a Saudi-led military coalition battling Iran-backed rebels in Yemen since March 2015.
Saudi Arabia has bought more than $5 billion (4.7 billion euros) worth of arms from the United States and Britain since then, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute think tank says.