British energy giant Ineos is set to sink $2bn (£1.6bn) into its very first manufacturing plants in Saudi Arabia.
Owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe called the decision “a major milestone that marks our first investment in the Middle East”.
The deal comes after Ineos reached an agreement with Saudi Aramco and French petrol firm Total.
Ineos’ plants in Saudia Arabia are set to produce chemicals that can be sold to the electronics, aerospace and car industries once they begin life in 2025.
“We are bringing advanced downstream technology which will add value and create further jobs in The Kingdom,” Ratcliffe, the UK’s third richest man, added.
Ineos said the manufacturing hubs will open up the Middle East and Asia markets to the company.
Three chemical plants will be built at Jubail 2, Saudi Aramco and Total’s $5bn petrochemicals centre.
By setting up plants in Saudi Arabia, Ineos hopes to spread out its risk profile from its focus on Europe and the US.
Tom Crotty, a director at Ineos, defended the decision to invest in a country where journalist Jamal Khashoggi was recently killed.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We believe there is a process of change going on in Saudi Arabia, that now is a good time for us to get involved because we think investment is what will lead to fuelling that process of change and modernisation in Saudi Arabia."
The chemical producer will rely on Saudi Aramco and Total's $5bn joint venture, called the Amiral petrochemicals project, to supply feedstock to its new plants.
When Ineos' three chemicals plants are up and running by 2025, two will be specialist olefins plants that manufacture synthetic lubricants and water treatment chemicals.
The third will be a state of the art acrylonitrile plant to produce material used in acrylic fibre that finds its way into jumpers, carpets and socks.
The deal follows Ineos’ talks about fracking tests in the UK, but the industrials giant has said regulations are too strict in Britain.
Earlier this year Ratcliffe complained that the government’s policy of low tolerance for quakes could kill off firms’ attempts at fracking.
“We have a non-existent energy strategy and are heading towards an energy crisis that will do long term and irreparable damage to the economy and the government needs to decide whether they are finally going to put the country first and develop a workable UK onshore gas industry” the billionaire said.