Riyadh Adds Further Weight and Value to SCO

Fri Mar 31 2023
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Regardless of some eyebrows in certain quarters that do not want Saudi Arabia to look to others and diversify its partners, the Saudi leadership is actively and positively engaged in a more pragmatic approach to building partnerships and alliances, which in fact, is the key to achieving its development goals.

In the latest step toward rebalancing its major power relations and implying the desire to develop close security and economic relations with China, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has approved a memorandum on granting the Kingdom the status of a dialogue partner in Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), an economic and security bloc that counts China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan as members. This comes amidst a wave of important recent developments, including the Saudi-Iran decision to restore their relations and Saudi Aramco’s announcement to raise its multibillion-dollar investment in China.


Dialogue partner status is the first major step within the SCO before granting the KSA full membership in the mid-term. We understand that joining the SCO was discussed during the historic visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Saudi Arabia last December. China has welcomed the Saudi decision saying it stands ready to strengthen cooperation with the Kingdom within the SCO to contribute more to safeguarding regional peace and stability and promoting common development.

This is a clear indication that both China and Saudi Arabia are on a path of a robust partnership- something which will benefit and open new opportunities in terms of trade and cultural exchanges as well as strong integration in economic, industrial, technological and security affairs not only for the countries within the SCO but also beyond it.

Through their actions, both Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman and Chinese President Xi have proved how much importance they both give to multilateralism, which is about having international affairs addressed through consultation and the future of the world decided by everyone working together. The world needs such leadership to avoid conflicts and ensure a better place for humanity.


SCO is among the world’s largest regional organizations, with its members accounting for around one-third of the global GDP, about 40 per cent of the world’s population, and nearly two-thirds of the Eurasian landmass. Its expansion is a testimony to its growing importance in the global multilateral architecture, and the KSA’s inclusion has added further value and weight to it due to its leadership status in major global institutions such as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and OPEC as well as its position as the largest economy in the Arab world and fastest-growing economy among the G-20 states.

As for Pakistan, the inclusion of Saudi Arabia in the SCO is welcome news, given the strong fraternal bonds that exist between the two countries. We believe this will provide another platform for both countries to expand their economic, trade, and defence relationship.

Those sitting in Washington should not be wary of KSA’s openness and diversification policy. Both the US and KSA have a history of the relationship, and this longstanding relationship is important for regional peace and security. Rather the closeness of KSA to China and Russia can put Riyadh in a position where it could play the role of a serious mediator for bridging gaps among the major powers.

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