MANILA – Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) is expected to visit the Philippines before the end of 2022, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Friday.

It is uncertain yet if the trip would be a state visit but Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Alfonso Ver said preparations are nevertheless underway.

"There was an initiative on the part of the MBS to go on an Asian swing. He was looking at, this was also reiterated by the foreign minister yesterday, he was looking East and looking at new drivers in countries in Asia. And [there's] a personal interest also in coming over to the Philippines," he told reporters at a press conference.

"[W]e still have to finalize the date but just to give you (an idea) of the visit, his father, King Salman, when he visited Bali, Indonesia in 2017 he brought along six planes and one C-130, I think 100 princes came in. So they have to close down Bali," he said.

Manila would be part of Prince Mohammed's multi-country trip in Asia, which could include Malaysia, Thailand, Pakistan, and Brunei, according to Ver.

At present, the two countries are "rushing" talks to ready possible agreements that could be signed when the crown prince arrives.

"We want to rush everything, we want to do everything... So we're working on the dates, we're working on the agenda, we're working on the deliverables," Ver said. "Rest assured that there's so many preparatory plans that we've been doing that if it pushes through in November, we'll be ready to welcome him here."

Ver said part of the meeting between Filipino officials and Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud who visited Manila on Thursday was "to lay the initial plans" for Prince Mohammed's trip.

There are at least 30 pending agreements between the Philippines and Saudi Arabia, but among the deals the DFA is hoping to get signed are on double taxation and investment promotion.

"Hopefully, that will eventually relate to investors coming," Ver said. He noted, however, that the visit alone would serve as a "big gift" to the Philippines.

Based on the recent Manila trip of Foreign Minister Faisal, Ver said Saudi Arabia was interested in forging closer economic cooperation with the Philippines

"[T]hey don't want to listen to a PowerPoint presentation, they want to see where they can put their money. They want to see where they can bring their expertise, they want to see where we can work together," he said.

"We can give all those seminars on how to avoid double taxes or how to make the most profit, but the thing is they need projects," he added. (PNA)