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SAUDI ARABIA - Diplomacy

Vakhtang Jaoshvili

Ambassador of Georgia, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Bio

Vakhtang Jaoshvili has been the Georgian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia since 2018. Prior to that, he worked within the ministry of foreign affairs’ department for the Middle East and Africa. He has also helped to represent Georgia in Ethiopia, the Seychelles, Somalia, Israel, and France,

"Thanks to many successful economic reforms that we have pursued, Georgia has acquired the deserved reputation as one of the most rapidly developing countries in the world."
Thanks to its successful tourism policies such as visa-free travel for all Saudis, Georgia has become one of the most rapidly growing tourism destinations in recent years.
How would you assess both the evolution and the current status of the ties between the two nations?

We opened an embassy in Riyadh in 2014, and since then the links between our countries have been steadily deepening. We highly value this relationship, but we have a great deal more to achieve. We work together within international organizations and cooperate closely in different multinational fora. Trade is constantly increasing, and I am pleased that Saudis can find more and more quality Georgian products in the Kingdom. However, our main strength relies on people-to-people relations, which is perfectly reflected in tourism. We were privileged to host more than 60,000 Saudis in 2021. Georgia has become one of the most attractive tourist destinations in the world. Every year, we witness an increasing number of tourists visiting Georgia: before the pandemic, for example, we hosted twice as many foreign visitors as our own population. Promoting tourism and supporting hospitality industry is therefore paying back, and it gives me a special pleasure that my homeland is particularly appealing to Saudi travelers. We achieved this globally by facilitating entry procedures and encouraging direct flights. In summer 2022, we have over 50 direct flights from Saudi Arabia. With a visa-free regime not only for Saudis but also the Kingdom’s residents, the GCC region has never been so close to Georgia. My country has all the components the contemporary traveler is looking for: pristine nature, attractive sites, great hospitality, and delectable cuisine. We are also well positioned as a competitive hub for events. To provide just one example, in 2023 Georgia will host the Freestyle Ski and Snowboard World Championships. We have ideal slopes and ski resorts, so we are all-seasons destination. We want to advertise more about its potential in the Kingdom.

Is there scope for attracting FDI from Saudi Arabia?

Definitely. Thanks to many successful economic reforms that we have pursued, Georgia has acquired the deserved reputation as one of the most rapidly developing countries in the world. Today, Georgia ranks seventh worldwide in terms of doing business and 12th in the index of economic freedom. We have free trade agreements with the EU, China, and all our neighbors. Therefore, what is produced in Georgia can readily be sold in a market with a population of over 2 billion people. All the above mentioned, together with its stable development, liberal and free-market economic policy, and simplified administrative procedures creates solid grounds for successful business in Georgia that is considered as an attractive platform for all investors and the business community. We have considerable Saudi interest daily regarding investment opportunities in Georgia. Those opportunities range from hi-tech and agriculture to real estate and hospitality. Saudis started also buying a property in Georgia, especially in Batumi: there are no restrictions in buying real estate in Georgia, as it is an open market.

What are your priorities for 2023?

The list is long and includes many spheres of political, economic and cultural relations. No doubt, tourism will remain one of the main spheres linking our countries and nations. We will continue to promote Georgia in Saudi Arabia and encourage Georgians to visit the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia has everything to offer to attract more tourists. I know how hard the Ministry of Tourism is working, and I am confident it will swiftly achieve their ambitious goals to turn the Kingdom into one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. In this regard, it is no coincidence that Riyadh will host the Middle East regional office of the UNWTO, the World Tourism Organization. As a Georgian, it gives me pride that the UN global entity for tourism is led by my compatriot and friend Zurab Pololikashvili.

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