As Saudi Arabia and China celebrate two decades of diplomatic ties, the countries are looking forward to strengthening their relationship through business, culture and financial links, while working together to achieve world peace, stability and security. Hammad Al-Rowaily, Saudi Arabia's Consul General to Hong Kong and Macau, says the two-nation strategic friendship has advanced significantly in recent years in the areas of politics, economy, trade and culture. 'The leaders of both Saudi Arabia and China have shown a sincere and true intention to take the relationship to a higher level. We believe there are still higher targets and higher goals to be achieved that will bring even greater strength to the relationship,' he says. On a global level, the consul general says Saudi Arabia's position in international diplomacy reflects the kingdom's leadership role for the achievement of world peace, stability and security. Saudi Arabia and China are partners at various levels. Both are key members of the G20. At the geopolitical level, both want long-term stability for the Middle East-Gulf region and long-term energy supply security. Saudi Arabia is a founding member of the Gulf Co-operation Council, the United Nations, League of Arab States, Organisation of the Islamic Conference, the Organisation of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries, oil-producing cartel Opec and numerous other international organisations. The kingdom is also a substantial contributor to the World Bank, the IMF, and a major provider of aid to developing countries. Al-Rowaily says Saudi Arabia has increased its oil-producing capacity by two million barrels per day in order to ensure supply and price stability. 'Saudi Arabia, which has the world's largest known reserves of oil, has set a strategy to produce extra oil if needed to provide a balance that is fair to both producers and consumers. We have invested a great deal of money to maintain market stability, which is not always related to production, but is also affected by other issues,' he says. Reflecting on the growing breadth of Sino-Saudi relations, Al-Rowaily says that before diplomatic ties were established, trade between the countries was about US$1billion, but today that figure exceeds US$40 billion. Saudi Arabia is China's biggest trading partner in the Middle East, while China is Saudi Arabia's fourth-largest importer and fifth-largest exporter. Saudi Arabia is China's largest crude oil supplier. In the field of culture, education and religion, the nations have signed a series of agreements. The King Abdullah Scholarship has sponsored hundreds of Saudi students to study in China since it was created in 2006. Thousands of Chinese pilgrims are visiting Saudi Arabia for the Haj pilgrimage and Umrah (minor pilgrimage) year after year and their numbers continue to increase. Co-operation also extends to science and technology. Saudi Arabia and its Chinese counterpart from the Chinese Academy of Sciences are working together on groundbreaking research projects focusing on water desalination and solar technology. Chinese students also make up the largest student population at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. Meanwhile, King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology has signed a memorandum of understanding with Huawei Technologies, China's major telecommunications equipment manufacturer, to strengthen co-operation in telecom technology and personnel training. As the Saudi government lays out its highest-ever budget this year and reaffirms its support for infrastructure spending, Saudi's construction activity is expected to remain on a high note. According to a recent report on Saudi-China trade relations, more than 70 Chinese companies are doing business in the kingdom. These include firms working on infrastructure projects, such as the container terminal at Jeddah Islamic Port and the Mecca-Medina high-speed railway, and upgrading and expansion work for Saudi cement companies. Since 2007, Chinese firms have won more than US$2 billion in non-energy contracts in Saudi Arabia. For its part, Saudi Arabia has become a major investor in Chinese refineries. Saudi companies are involved in joint ventures, such as the Fujian Refining and Ethylene Project. It has also linked up with Sinopec SenMei Petroleum Company, which is engaged in refining, petrochemicals and retail distribution. The consul general says Hong Kong plays a strategic role in the relationship between the nations, acting as the gateway and link for many trading activities. 'Hong Kong's financial services, infrastructure and business efficiency play a key role in strengthening the economic ties between Saudi Arabia and China,' Al-Rowaily says. As part of Saudi Arabia's awareness activities, the consul general says the Shanghai World Expo has provided another opportunity for Saudi Arabia to highlight its numerous business and cultural attractions. The Vitality of Life pavilion showcases both modern and traditional Saudi life. Highlights of the exhibition include four types of cities: the City of Energy, the City of Oasis, the Ancient City with Rich Cultural Heritage, and the City of Fast-Growing Economy. 'The simple but expressive pavilion has been designed to increase understanding of Saudi Arabia, its history culture and dramatic economic progress,' Al-Rowaily says. 'The exhibition follows the success of Saudi Arabia's 'Yesterday and Today' exhibition, which has been staged in several countries and highlights Saudi Arabia's accomplishments over the past 50 years. The consul general says that, in keeping with Islamic beliefs and tradition, Saudi Arabia responds to global tragedies with aid and support. For example, following the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan province, Saudi Arabia earned the distinction of being the largest aid donor to China, providing close to US$50 million in financial assistance and an additional US$10 million worth of relief materials. Responding to the recent flooding in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia was the first nation to respond to the aid appeal with a donation exceeding US$140 million. The Saudi royal family donated US$20 million, encouraging other Saudi citizens to follow their example. On the ground, Saudi rescue teams were quick to arrive in the worst-affected areas to rescue victims and set up field hospitals and medical facilities. The Saudi military and air force also made special arrangements to send large cargo planes carrying hundreds of tonnes of relief goods.