The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has offered to fund the setting up of diplomatic missions for each of CARICOM’s 14 nations there, as it seeks to deepen relations with CARICOM.
Prime Minister Hon Dickon Mitchell reported on Wednesday that at the end of the inaugural Saudi Arabia/CARICOM Summit on November 16, 2023, chairman of CARICOM Hon Roosevelt Skerritt relayed to CARICOM states that Saudi Arabia “was prepared to provide accommodation free of cost for each of the CARICOM countries to be able to establish diplomatic missions in Saudi Arabia.”
Welcoming this proposal, Hon Mitchell said this is as Saudi Arabia “plans to take the country “from its laid back, up shrew [approach] to an international player in investment, economic activity and geo politics.” Therefore, he said Saudi Arabia saw it necessary to form bilateral and multilateral relationships with CARICOM.
Prime Minister Mitchell told the media that the one-day summit was “historic” and saw the attendance of all CARICOM heads signaling “the importance we held to the summit, which was very successful.”
The summit included a Saudi–CARICOM Investment Roundtable where they dialogued with investors to identify investment opportunities within the Caribbean and establish robust connections with Saudi companies. This followed a meeting with the crown prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud for a business lunch and three-hour engagement that focused on climate change, investment, peace and safety, among other areas. The “conversation was deep and fruitful,” Hon Mitchell said.
More so, PM Mitchell said Grenada had several bi lateral meetings with the Saudi Arabia Ministers of Investment, Environment and Agriculture, Transport and Logistics and Health.
Accompanied by Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hon Joseph Andall; Deputy Permanent Secretary in Ministry of Finance, the Counsel General in Dubai, three advisors, PM Mitchell said they toured three hospitals in Saudi Arabia including the Saudi Arabian virtual hospital – one of two operating in the world. “It was a mind-blowing experience because it demonstrates how you can leverage modern day technology to provide medical care and attention to citizens who otherwise may not have access to it because of the remoteness of the location or the critical nature of the injury…and limitation to travel.”
Impressive also to the Prime Minister was their use of data to track health trends there to proactively address it. He thought it significant that their policy includes a shift in focus on sickness to wellness and prevention and the transformation of the primary health care system.
Hon Mitchell said the intention is to sign off on MOUs for technical cooperation to allow technical teams from Grenada to visit Saudi Arabia and to have further conversation on policy guidance, training, technology exchange, etcetera, noting that the “Minister of Health is ready to host a team when Grenada is ready.”
The Prime Minister reported that the summit concluded with a declaration where they pledged to deepen relationships among the nations and called for a cease fire in the current conflict involving Israel and Hamas and the challenges faced by citizens there.
Preceding the Saudi Arabia visit, the Prime Minster met with Grenadians in United Kingdom at a “successful” gala attended by hundreds. This was followed by a town hall meeting where the new High Commissioner Rachae Croney was introduced and the PM listened the concerns of attendees and shared the plans of government.
Of the concerns raised, Hon Mitchell said government recognizes that the location of the High Commission is a challenge [as well as] the state of the [building],” and committed to addressing it.
In addition, Prime Minister Mitchell said he met with MP David Rutley where they discussed bilateral relations and the United Kingdom Caribbean Infrastructure Partnership Fund (UKCIF) and Grenada’s Citizen By Investment (CBI) programme.
At his November 08-10 visit to Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) to attend the CBI conference, Hon Mitchell delivered a key note address sharing Grenada’s experience with the CBI programme and presented Grenada as a choice nation to invest.