SINCE 1996, France and Saudi Arabia have been linked in a strategic partnership that reflects the importance of the relationship between the two countries. This relationship, first established when King Faisal met General de Gaulle in 1967, has been fully active in various fields: Political, military, security, economical and cultural.
Further to the visit paid by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah to Paris in June 2007, followed by President Nicolas Sarkozy’s visit to Riyadh in January 2008, it was decided, at highest levels, to give a new impetus to our strategic partnership — the aim being to give it a global presence.
Major cooperation agreements were signed in 2008, on education (university and technical), security, politics and energy. Close cooperation is maintained on the major political issues in the region where our positions widely converge. We particularly value Saudi efforts and contributions to Middle East stability, its fight against international terrorism and its promotion of dialogue between religions and cultures.
As far as the economy is concerned, we particularly appreciate the Kingdom’s wise policy in the petroleum sector where many of our firms are involved in ongoing major development projects. In 2008, French exports to the Kingdom rose by 15 percent. In particular, we are proud of the sizeable contracts signed by French companies in the water treatment, electricity and transport sectors. French firms are also active in the distribution, hotel, food and luxury industries.
France also contributes to Saudi Arabia’s important efforts in training, with 51 agreements signed in 2008 between Saudi and French firms in the field.
Saudi Arabia’s potential, its massive development program and its diversification strategy offer a promising outlook for France over the coming years.
We expect to sign soon a cooperation agreement in the civil nuclear sector, which will open a new avenue in our strategic partnership. Of course, we hope that the high speed railway project linking Makkah and Madinah will be awarded to the Alstom-Rajhi-SNCF consortium.
We also expect the strengthening of cooperation between Airbus and Saudia and look to other success stories for our companies in the water, electricity, communication, airport, distribution, hotel, defense and security sectors.
We are proud to announce that France will be the guest of honor of Al-Janadriyadh festival next year and that the Kingdom has chosen the Louvre museum to exhibit for the first time its impressive archeological treasures.
To conclude, we are determined to strengthen our strategic partnership in all areas for the mutual benefit of our two friendly nations.