France and Saudi Arabia to ‘invest in the future’

Saudi Arabia's crown prince Prince Mohammed bin Salman (L) arrives at Le Bourget airport, north of Paris, on April 8, 2018, ahead of a state visit. (AFP)
Updated 08 April 2018
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France and Saudi Arabia to ‘invest in the future’

  • The transformation of the Saudi economy, society and political life is under way.
  • The tour of Crown Prince Mohammed is more focused on security, economy and business.
LONDON: The visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Paris will include meetings with French business leaders and plans to build trade ties focused on “investments in the future.”
The two countries have a strong history of bilateral trade relations within the defense, infrastructure and aerospace sectors.
Former French Prime Minister Manuel Valls signed €10 billion worth of contracts in October 2015 in the fields of aerospace and military contracts on behalf of Airbus, transport, energy, health and food markets with French companies. France is also a major arms supplier to the Kingdom.
“We want a new cooperation, concentrating less on contracts and more in investing in the future, especially in digital and renewable energy, with a common vision,” the French presidency said on Thursday.
This statement suggests that the royal visit is about more than economics and looks to a deepening of cultural and political ties.
“Part of his visit will be economic, to say the least, but Saudi Arabia will also want to promote its Vision 2030 approach,” Scott Lucas, professor of international politics at the University of Birmingham, told Arab News.
The professor said he expects to see more alliances and deals forged with the French technology sector as Saudi Arabia continues the high-tech momentum from the crown prince’s recent visit to Silicon Valley. Lucas added that there could also be more deals for weaponry, infrastructure and clean energy. “There is a wide range of areas for possible cooperation,” he said.
Dr. Khalid Bin Mohammad Al-Ankary, Saudi ambassador to France, wrote on Thursday in the French publication L’Opinion that “the regularity of the bilateral visits testifies to the solid partnership between France and the Kingdom, which is based in particular on common strategic interests: The fight against terrorism and for international stability, the search for a convergence of views on regional crises in the Middle East and the Sahel.”
Al-Ankary added: “This visit has particular importance and meaning. The transformation of the Saudi economy, society and political life is under way. A young and connected country. What modernity would be possible without openness to tourism and culture?”
Chris Doyle, director of the London-based Council for Arab-British Understanding, said the cultural “opening up” of Saudi Arabia with new licenses for concerts and museums “presents a wealth of opportunities for countries with cultural exports, such as France.”
The crown prince’s visit will also be about building ties against terrorism and building educational and cultural ties beyond economic deals alone, Doyle said.
“Saudi Arabia hasn’t yet had many touristic visits from Europe, but as Saudi Arabia opens up there may be a possibility that this happens,” he added. Doyle highlighted renewable energy as another potential area for KSA-France collaboration. “Saudi Arabia has recently highlighted green energy as absolutely vital. Now green energy is experiencing such a rise, it’s only sensible that Saudi Arabia invests in it and that means partnering with the world’s renewable energy leaders.”
Doyle added that the crown prince has a major political agenda. “People aren’t sure where Saudi Arabia’s direction is going and he’s trying to explain his strategy to his three most important Western allies — the US, the UK and France.”
He said the true success of the crown prince’s trips to the West as regards how Saudi Arabia is perceived would be measured in the medium-to-long term. “The dividends of this trip may not be seen immediately, however, in the short term, there were no pitfalls or massive clash that undermined the visit — it went fairly smoothly,” he said.
“The tour of Crown Prince Mohammed is more focused on security, economy and business,” said Dr. Ibrahim Al-Qayid, a founding member of the Riyadh-based National Society for Human Rights. He said that the crown prince has lent all his support to “encourage entrepreneurship and foreign investment, and privatize state-owned industries... The crown prince’s support to women with an aim to integrate them into the workforce has started paying dividends.”


Mexican delegation visits Saudi Arabia to promote trade and discuss investment

The Mexican ambassador further declared that his country, like Saudi Arabia, is one of the top 20 economies in the world and is eager to strengthen mechanisms of collaboration in different areas. (SPA)
Updated 17 November 2018
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Mexican delegation visits Saudi Arabia to promote trade and discuss investment

  • The visiting team expressed their desire to benefit from and contribute to the projects presented by the Kingdom’s Vision 2030

RIYADH: A trade delegation from Mexico called on the Saudi business community to strengthen trade partnerships with their counterparts in Mexico and participate in promising opportunities and investment projects in various areas, especially in the construction and infrastructure sectors.
“A delegation from the National Bank for Services and Public Works (BANOBRAS), the most important development bank in Mexico, visited Saudi Arabia to promote investment opportunities that will bring the countries closer together,” Mexican Ambassador Alfredo Miranda told Arab News on Friday.
Miranda accompanied Alejandro Blasco, head of investor relations at BANOBRAS, and Luis Ampudia, deputy head of investor relations, during the meeting at the Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC).
The Saudi delegation was made up of CSC Secretary-General Saud Al-Meshari; Vice Chairman and Managing Director of the Saudi Fund for Development Khalid S. Alkhudairy; and head of stakeholder management of the Public Investment Fund (PIF) Saad A. Alkroud.
During the meetings, the Mexican delegation shared the opportunities available in Mexico for identifying possible public-private partnerships and financing social infrastructure projects, and they discussed the potential of investment opportunities in Mexico as part of the PIF’s international diversified pool, said the envoy.
The visiting team expressed their desire to benefit from and contribute to the projects presented by the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.
The Mexican ambassador further declared that his country, like Saudi Arabia, is one of the top 20 economies in the world and is eager to strengthen mechanisms of collaboration in different areas, taking into account that Mexico’s GDP is $1.1 trillion, has a population of 129 million inhabitants, an inflation rate of 4 percent and very low unemployment of just 4 percent.
“I am sure both countries will continue to work together in order to have more Mexicans in Saudi Arabia and more Saudis in Mexico,” said Ambassador Miranda.