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German consul general hails Saudi reforms

German Consul General Holger Ziegeler, center, with other diplomats and guests at the German Unity Day celebrations in Jeddah. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
JEDDAH: The German consul general on Sunday hailed recent steps toward female empowerment in Saudi Arabia, including lifting the ban on women driving.
Speaking at a German Unity Day celebration, Holger Ziegeler also praised Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s “determined” reform efforts.
“It’s a very good time to be here and to be part… of that future movement,” the consul general said.
Ziegeler, who was appointed in 2016, added that he has witnessed ground-breaking changes in the Kingdom.
He described the crown prince’s announcement last month of plans to construct the Neom megacity as “breath-taking.”
Within a day, “thousands of (German) institutions and companies that want to, and can certainly contribute to, this huge project contacted us,” Ziegeler added.
More than 10,000 Muslims from Germany visited Saudi Arabia during the pilgrimage season, and the German Consulate gave out 18,000 visas last year, he said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was re-elected in September, visited the Kingdom in April, where she met with King Salman and the crown prince. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel visited in July.
Germany’s new foreign minister is expected to visit soon, “probably” Jeddah, said Ziegeler, who talked about Germany’s “love affair with the fledgling art scene” in the city.
He invited eight artists to a week-long contemporary art tour through Germany, and unveiled a large graffiti wall by Jeddah artists Frop & Muso under the title “Willkommen! Marhaba.”
He said: “Many ideas spring from encounters with other cultures. This is true for art as much as in industry and science.”
He added: “It has been a delight to see Frop & Muso climb up and down a huge scaffolding over the last week to complete their amazing mural as the backdrop to our National Day celebration.”
The large-scale graffiti artwork playfully amalgamates Saudi elements such as Red Sea dolphins with significant German icons such as the Brandenburg Gate.

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