France and Saudi Arabia enjoy close and confident relationship

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STRONG TIES: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif with French President Francois Hollande during his visit to Paris in March 2016.
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SOLIDARITY: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman receives French President Francois Hollande in Riyadh last year.
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Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman holds talks with French President Francois Hollande in Paris last month.
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Updated 13 July 2016

France and Saudi Arabia enjoy close and confident relationship

France opened its first consulate in Jeddah in 1839. Ever since King Faisal and General de Gaulle met in 1967, our bilateral relations have evolved through personal contacts at the highest levels. This tradition remains strong.
French President François Hollande paid four visits to the Kingdom since his election in 2012.
His last official visit in May 2015 was particularly historic as he met Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and he was the guest of honor at the GCC summit.
This visit bolstered a new reinforcement of our strategic partnership with the Kingdom and the GCC countries.

• The relationship between Paris and Riyadh is based on friendship, confidence and mutual interests

France and Saudi Arabia have always enjoyed a strong, close and confident relationship, which has known a new impetus during the last years.
Our two friendly countries have increased the pace of their bilateral visits.
Last March, Crown Prince Mohamed bin Naif, deputy premier and interior minister visited France, where he received the Legion of Honor, the highest honor in France whose recipients are designated by the French president.
On June 27 and 28, France was also delighted to host Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, second deputy premier and defense minister to discuss about development of the bilateral relations in the framework of the Saudi Vision 2030.
On the occasion of these two high-rank visits, the crown prince and the deputy crown prince met with French President François Hollande, Prime Minister Manuel Valls, Foreign Affairs and International Development Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian with whom they share a common approach and views of the situation in the Middle East (Syria, Yemen, Iran, Iraq and the Middle East peace process).
Moreover, members of the French Parliament and the Shoura Council have strengthened their relations through multiple visits to Riyadh and Paris in the framework of the French-Gulf countries friendship group.
Those meetings and events show the high level of our special bilateral relations which promote mutual strategic interests of our both countries for the benefit of French and Saudi people.

• President Hollande and King Salman have strengthened the French–Saudi global strategic partnership

In May 2015, our two leaders François Hollande and King Salman adopted an ambitious Action Plan to boost our relationship through a win-win approach.
Since then, France and Saudi Arabia have already held two joint committees, co-chaired by Mohamed bin Salman and Jean-Marc Ayrault, minister of French foreign affairs and international development.
The 3rd Saudi-French joint Committee, to be held next fall, will focus on our common determination to strengthen the French-Saudi strategic partnership and deepen our special relationship through the improvement of our trade and the identification of new cooperation prospects within the framework the National Transformation Program (NTP) 2020 adopted by the Kingdom to implement Saudi Vision 2030.
On this occasion, the French president has commended the economic and social reforms Plan adopted by the Kingdom and confirmed willingness of the French government and private investors to stand with people of Saudi Arabia.
The last joint committee, held last October in Riyadh on the sidelines of the historic 2nd Saudi French Business Forum, was marked by the presence of French Prime Minister Manuel Valls who led a delegation of more than 100 French officials.
More than 2,000 participants and 130 French firms attended this major business event which is believed to be the biggest international Business Forum held in Riyadh.
Besides, the French Embassy in Riyadh has organized several business meetings between top leaders of French companies and Saudi economic key players in order to improve Saudi investment in France as well as to foster French businessmen to invest in the Kingdom.
France is convinced that the high French expertise must take part in the new era to be implemented by the National Transformation Program 2020.
France and the Kingdom have built a strong global partnership of excellence in various common interest fields such as Defense, energy, health care, agriculture, transportation and infrastructure, culture, education and sport as well as sciences and technology, information, environment, water, housing, tourism and heritage.
With $15.3 billion of French foreign direct investment (FDI) in Saudi Arabia, France is the 3rd biggest investor in the Kingdom.
More than 80 French subsidiaries have an active presence in Saudi Arabia, and most of the big groups of CAC 40 (Paris Index) are represented in the Kingdom.
They employ about 27.600 people, including 10 000 Saudis, a Saudization rate of 36 percent much higher than the average of the Saudi economy (16 percent).
Twenty-four Saudi companies are located in France (mostly by acquiring existing entities).
They employ 3,200 people directly and achieve a combined turnover of around 350 million euros.

— Bertrand Besancenot, Ambassador of France to Saudi Arabia

Interior Ministry is a pioneer in smart services: Saudi minister

More than 350 experts attended the cybersecutiry meeting in Jeddah on Tuesday. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 22 November 2018

Interior Ministry is a pioneer in smart services: Saudi minister

  • The ministry “is part of the country’s work system of cybersecurity”

Millions of local internet users are making the most of the Ministry of Interior’s smart service portal every day. Its digital transformation program experience will be a global example to follow.

This was stressed by Assistant Minister of Interior for Technology Affairs Prince Dr. Bandar bin Abdullah Al-Mishari Al-Saud, the chief guest at a cybersecurity meeting organized by the Jeddah branch of the American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS International) at the Ritz-Carlton on Tuesday, in collaboration with the General Secretariat of the Higher Commission for Industrial Security.

The ministry “is part of the country’s work system of cybersecurity, which has recently become an independent government entity. It is responsible for planning and supervising cybersecurity. Therefore, we fully cooperate with it. Thus, the ministry is keen to support all national platforms, particularly the national cybersecurity authority,” the minister said in the meeting, in which specialists from the National Cyber Security Center and the Communications and Information Technology Commission participated.

In a 30-minute speech, the prince addressed an audience of more than 350, stressing that the Ministry of Interior has been digitized from the start.

“The National Information Center (NIC) was established 40 years ago as the first information center in the Middle East. Digitization in the Ministry of Interior started at that time. The founding of the NIC synchronized with the establishment of King Saud University’s College of Computer and Information Sciences, as the first college of its kind in the region, as far as I know,” he said. The college was one of the few institutions in the world at that time, he said. The ministry and King Saud University collaborated to establish the College of Computer and Information Sciences.

Prince Bandar pointed out that data have become “a commodity, an industry, wealth. All forms of data, in fact, have become an integrated industry and a national treasure on all levels.” Data and information, if used properly, can make a big leap in our life. If neglected, he said, they will be a burden on societies.

He noted that the portal of the Saudi Ministry of Interior is a pioneer in the region in smart services and solutions, pointing out that the ministry’s platforms and initiatives are used by millions of users every day. “It has made outstanding achievements at all levels, including passports, traffic and other services,” he said. The prince stressed in his lecture that the Interior Ministry is a leader in adopting technology in nearly all the services it provides.

“The ministry started issuing entry/exit visas electronically in 2009. It also introduced the fingerprint system and the smart national ID cards in the same year. A year later, it introduced the Absher platform,” he said.

“Absher will soon launch a new service called ‘Absher Government’ which will provide governmental entities with the services they need. We will also add more services and technologies to the Absher platform to meet people’s needs and ease their lives,” the assistant minister said. They were thinking of making Absher a giant platform like Google, he said.

The use of electronic services and smart solutions is the backbone for future government, he said. “Any economic, developmental and social success will be through depending mainly on these elements. We, in Saudi Arabia, have made great advances in this regard, in a way that complies with the country’s Vision 2030. Our achievements in this field harmonize with the rapid increase in deploying technology and knowledge.” 

The leadership has a clear vision and ambitious goals that will put Saudi Arabia among the developed countries in the world.

Replying to an Arab News question about how we can successfully manage the unstoppable flow of applications that may damage our cultural identity or do harm to our social fabric, the assistant minister said clear legislation can help control information and preserve the right of information owners, and this what will soon happen after the national privacy system is issued.

The minister said the total population of Saudi Arabia exceeded 33.2 million. “More than 30.2 million use the internet and 25 million are active internet users, and 18 million of Saudis are active mobile users.”