French see business opportunities in KSA

CONSTRUCTIVE VISIT: Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman leaves after his meeting with French President Francois Hollande at the Elysee Presidential Palace in Paris in this June 27 photo. (AFP)
Updated 03 July 2016

French see business opportunities in KSA

JEDDAH: French media outlets unanimously agree that Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to France on June 27-28 represented a turning point in the strategic partnership between the two countries.

During the visit, Prince Mohammed shared Vision 2030, the reform program he architected intending to diversify and develop the Saudi economy as well as rely on strategic partners of the Kingdom for its success.
French media agree the plan presents a valuable opportunity for French companies and skills to reach the Saudi market.
In light of the visit’s goals and objectives, French radio France Info said Vision 2030 is an integrated plan to reform the economy and eliminate dependence on oil, a plan not seen before, and includes indicators to measure the performance of ministries, which is lacking even in some developed countries.
Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 is aimed at transforming the country into the “Digital Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” which explains the keenness of Prince Mohammed to meet with senior digital institutions and innovation companies during his state visits, according to the French newspaper Liberation. The paper pointed to the timing of the visit after visiting the United States during the holy month of Ramadan, which demonstrates the keenness to gain time and begin implementation of the plan.
French newspaper La Tribune said modernizing the Saudi economy provides promising opportunities for French companies and skills, especially those with activities in the new and renewable energy sector, as well as the minerals, agriculture, health and IT sectors.
The paper noted, however, that although economic diplomacy has been an important dimension in French diplomacy, it is up to French companies to establish successful partnerships with Saudi companies as Vision 2030 will make the private sector the vehicle for reform and repair.

Motorsport, rock bands, tourists … welcome to the new Saudi Arabia

There was an explosion of joy at the podium when Antonio Felix da Costa lifted the winner’s trophy at the conclusion of the Formula E Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix on Saturday. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 16 December 2018

Motorsport, rock bands, tourists … welcome to the new Saudi Arabia

  • Three-day event at Ad Diriyah reaches spectacular climax in an unprecedented spirit of openness

The driver with the winner’s trophy was Antonio Felix da Costa — but the real winners were Saudi Arabia itself, and more than 1,000 tourists visiting the country for the first time.

Da Costa, the Andretti Motorsport driver, won the Formula E Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix in front of thousands of race fans at a custom-built track in the historic district on the outskirts of Riyadh.

But in truth, the event was about much more than high-tech electric cars hurtling round a race track — thrilling though that was. The three-day festival of motorsport, culture and entertainment was Saudi Arabia’s chance to prove that it can put on a show to rival anything in the world, and which only two years ago would have been unthinkable.

The event was also the first to be linked to the Sharek electronic visa system, allowing foreigners other than pilgrims or business visitors to come to Saudi Arabia.

Jason, from the US, is spending a week in the country with his German wife, riding quad bikes in the desert and visiting heritage sites. “I’ve always wanted to come for many, many years ... I’m so happy to be here and that they’re letting us be here,” he said.

Aaron, 40, a software engineer, traveled from New York for two days. “Saudi Arabia has always been an exotic place ... and I didn’t think I’d ever be able to come here,” he said.

About 1,000 visitors used the Sharek visa, a fraction of what Saudi Arabia aims eventually to attract. 

“Hopefully we will learn from this and see what we need to do for the future, but I can tell you from now that there is a lot of demand,” said Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, vice chairman of the General Sports Authority.

His optimism was backed by Kirill Dmitriev, chief executive of the Russian Direct Investment Fund and a visitor to Ad Diriyah. “Such events will attract tourists and are a true celebration for young Saudis who desire a bright future,” he said.

“The vision of moderate Islam, promoted by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is important both for the region and the entire world, and its realization needs to be appreciated, respected and supported.”

The event ended on Saturday night with a spectacular show by US band OneRepublic and the superstar DJ David Guetta. “Just when you think things can’t get better, they suddenly do,” said concertgoer Saleh Saud. “This is the new Saudi Arabia, and I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next.”