Leaders from 50 nations in the Middle East and Africa are set to convene in Riyadh for the inaugural Saudi-African Summit on November 10. The summit aims to establish a long-term partnership between Saudi Arabia and the African Union, building on existing economic, cultural, and diplomatic ties and forging new ones. Geographical proximity and a shared history of cultural and linguistic ties between Saudi Arabia and Africa are emphasized.
Formal ties were established in the 1960s, and since then, relations have grown significantly. Saudi Arabia, through the Saudi Fund for Development, has provided substantial support to over 54 African countries, totalling approximately $13.5 billion. The Kingdom currently maintains diplomatic relations with 54 African countries and operates numerous missions, with plans to open more in the future.
The first Saudi-African Summit aims to enhance political coordination, foster joint action, and promote economic development and investment cooperation. The postponement of the fifth Arab-Africa Summit, scheduled for November 11, is attributed to the Israel-Hamas conflict, with a focus on preventing regional events from affecting the partnership’s developmental and economic aspects.
The Islamic Development Bank, based in Jeddah since 1975, has played a crucial role in financing projects in Africa, providing loans and credit to member countries for social and physical infrastructure development. As Africa celebrates the 60th anniversary of the African Union, the continent’s potential for economic, social, and political partnerships is recognized, with Saudi Arabia eager to encourage investment.
The upcoming summit is expected to address not only trade and investment but also shared security concerns, including regional conflicts and extremist insurgencies. Saudi Arabia’s involvement in mediating talks between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces is highlighted. Stability and development, particularly through investment in educational programs, are identified as key to unlocking Africa’s full potential.
The staging of these twin conferences sends a strong signal of Saudi Arabia’s commitment to building upon existing relationships and identifying new ways to forge a common vision for development in collaboration with African nations.