North East to see £3bn Saudi investment after Newcastle United takeover

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Oliver Dowden claimed the North East stands to gain £3bn investment as the UK looks to strengthen Saudi ties.

The North East stands to benefit from £3bn of investment from Saudi Arabia as the UK seeks to strengthen ties with the kingdom.

On Tuesday, emails between Newcastle City Council and Newcastle United officials revealed a drive for the city to build a relationship with state following its Public Investment Fund’s takeover of the club in 2021.

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Chairman of Newcastle United, Yasir Al-Rumayyan and Amanda Staveley, Part-Owner of Newcastle United. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)Chairman of Newcastle United, Yasir Al-Rumayyan and Amanda Staveley, Part-Owner of Newcastle United. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Chairman of Newcastle United, Yasir Al-Rumayyan and Amanda Staveley, Part-Owner of Newcastle United. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Five ministers, including Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden, are in Riyadh this week alongside 450 business and cultural leaders in an event called Great Futures- aimed to connect Saudi and British companies and institutions.

A press release promoting the summit highlighted that “figures to be announced by the Deputy Prime Minister show the North East alone stands to benefit from a further £3 billion of ongoing investment from Saudi Arabia, helping to sustain c.2000 jobs in the region”.  Newcastle United co-owner Amanda Staveley, Newcastle Gateshead Initiative CEO Sarah Green, Newcastle United Women head coach Becky Langley, Northumbria University vice-chancellor Andy Long, North East Screen CEO Alison Gwynn are all listed among the speakers at the Riyadh summit.

On the schedule for day two of the event on Wednesday is a panel entitled “Focus On Newcastle Upon Tyne: Building A Gateway To Saudi Through Innovative Trade And Investment”.

The agenda for that discussion states that it will cover how the takeover of Newcastle United, led by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), has created a “unique opportunity between Saudi Arabia and the North East of England and benefiting the wider UK, for increased levels of trade and investment in sectors such as hospitality and tourism, creative and knowledge-based economies including health and life sciences, data and AI, advanced renewable energy and even space exploration”.

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In the emails obtained by Newcastle United Fans Against Sportswashing, it emerged Newcastle City Council’s director of investment and growth, Michelle Percy, wrote to Amanda Staveley: “there is an ambition for Newcastle to attract further investment from the [Gulf] region” to increase exports from the North East, and bring in tourists.” Ms Percy also suggested the North East could create a “knowledge exchange programme” with Saudi Arabia around tourism and develop a “joint energy institute led by North East and Saudi Universities.”

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