King Salman Launches Month-Long Investment Tour in Asia

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman leaves Sunday for a month-long tour of key nations in Asia as the region grows in influence as an oil importer and potential investor in the Saudi economy.

The King is expected to visit Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan and China. It is his first trip outside the Middle East and North Africa since he visited the United States in 2014.

Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with the head of Japan's Softbank.

Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (r) and Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son.

According to Reuters, Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih and Aramco executives will travel with him. Officials are interested in courting Asian investors for the sale of a 5 percent stake in Aramco in 2018, which is expected to be the world’s biggest IPO, and have solicited financial advice from banks with links to China.

The visit comes as the Kingdom has greatly increased its investment and trade ties with the region.

Last year, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund agreed to invest up to $45 billion in a new technology fund with Japan’s SoftBank Group, contributing to an overall value of the fund at $100 billion.

In August, Saudi Arabia signed 15 preliminary agreements with China in sectors from energy to housing on a trip headed by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

King Salman’s state visit to Indonesia is the first by a Saudi king since 1970. Reuters reports that Saudi Aramco is expected to sign an agreement during the visit to collaborate with Malaysia’s state oil firm Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) on its Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (RAPID) project.