Saudi Arabia, France strengthen business, trade relations in line with Vision 2030 investment plans

Saudi Arabia, France strengthen business, trade relations in line with Vision 2030 investment plans
Francois Touazi (left), vice chairman of MEDEF International France-Saudi Business Council, Faiz Alelweet (middle), vice president of the Saudi-French Business Council, Laurent Germain (right), chairman of MEDEF International France-Saudi Business Council
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Updated 01 June 2021

Saudi Arabia, France strengthen business, trade relations in line with Vision 2030 investment plans

Saudi Arabia, France strengthen business, trade relations in line with Vision 2030 investment plans
  • With direct investments amounting to more than $4.37 billion, France has become one of Saudi Arabia’s largest investors
  • A French delegation representing MEDEF International, arrived in Saudi Arabia for a three-day visit, welcomes the strengthening of bilateral relations

RIYADH: A French delegation on a three-day trip to Saudi Arabia has expressed high hopes for the Kingdom’s future through investment opportunities in emerging sectors and enhanced bilateral relations.

With direct investments amounting to more than $4.37 billion, France has become one of Saudi Arabia’s largest investors.

“We are really convinced that Saudi Arabia has a very promising market for French companies,” Laurent Germain, chairman of the MEDEF (Movement of the Enterprises of France) International France-Saudi Arabia Business Council, told Arab News during his fourth mission to the Kingdom.

“The Saudi economy is robust, and the growth forecast for the next 10 years is very promising.”

Germain pointed out that the digital and healthcare sectors had particularly caught France’s eye, calling it the “new economy” and he said French companies were committed to increasing and diversifying their investment in the Saudi economy.

“We have a lot of startups and SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) in France specialized in high-value technologies, and the objective is for them to have more access to the Saudi market,” he added.

Last year, the MEDEF delegation saw the arrival of 100 representatives from 80 French companies, having “solid” expertise in many sectors, including tourism, healthcare, and entertainment.

This year’s delegation, spearheaded by Germain, was received by Dr. Khaled Al-Yahya, secretary-general of the Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC), on a three-day trip to meet with Saudi ministries, government entities, and French companies based in the Kingdom.

Germain said: “What was clear in the discussions was that all the ministries now have a clear strategy, and clear targets. For the Ministry of Tourism having 100 million visitors (by 2030), for the energy ministry to have 50 percent of the energy produced through renewables, and now each ministry has an action plan. And what we discussed is how the French firms can help the different ministries in order to achieve these goals.”

The CSC has been working alongside MEDEF International — a French non-profit organization — toward enhancing the role of the foreign private sector by developing its strategies in line with Vision 2030.

Francois Touazi, vice chairman of the MEDEF International France-Saudi Arabia Business Council, said: “We’re also here to have an update. Despite the (coronavirus disease) COVID-19 pandemic, Saudi Arabia was very active, and we have been very impressed by all the projects that have been announced — the Line, for example, the plans to transition to hydrogen — we’re very excited to be part of this new adventure.”

The transition to renewable energy is a new undertaking of Saudi Arabia and part of its goals for sustainable development strategies under Vision 2030.

“This is a sector where the French firms have great expertise. Both the big companies like Electricite de France (EDF), Engie, and others,” Germain said.

“But we also have SMEs and startups very much advanced on this issue and the combination of both can bring a very interesting offer to the Saudi market.

“I think we have very clearly identified the different sectors where the tenders will be issued, because what is key for the companies is to know about the projects, about the timelines, the tenders, when the tenders will be out so that they can prepare themselves to be effective.”

The MEDEF recently signed a framework agreement with the Saudi investment ministry (MISA) to boost bilateral investment relations and support long-term partnerships in emerging sectors, including tourism, healthcare, and entertainment.

“Through the meetings we have had during that delegation, we have a clear view on what the projects are going to be, when the tenders are going to be issued, and what the criteria are for the French companies to win the tenders,” he added.

Armed with this information, the French delegation will return to France and inform private companies of what will enable them to win bids in order to successfully penetrate the Saudi market.

“The financing of the projects of Vision 2030 have been confirmed and this gives visibility to the French companies and motivates them to invest more into the Saudi market,” Germain said.

Plans to arrange a Saudi delegation for France to meet its counterparts and encourage SMEs are in the pipeline, according to Faiz Alelweet, vice president of the Saudi-French Business Council.

On French-Saudi ties being possibly affected by the French elections next year, Germain said: “France recognizes all the potential that Saudi Arabia has in the region, but also in the world.

“It is very much aware that Saudi Arabia is now a key player of the G20, that the growth forecast in Saudi Arabia is very strong, that there is political will in the diversification of the economy of Saudi Arabia, that this is a tremendous opportunity for French companies, and that’s why there will be a continuity whoever wins the presidency.”

The mission will also be visiting Jeddah for talks with officials and business leaders there.


OIC slams attempted Houthi attack on southern Saudi city

OIC slams attempted Houthi attack on southern Saudi city
Updated 8 min 32 sec ago

OIC slams attempted Houthi attack on southern Saudi city

OIC slams attempted Houthi attack on southern Saudi city

JEDDAH: The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Thursday condemned the Iran-backed Houthi militia’s targeting of civilians in the Saudi city of Khamis Mushayt.

The Arab coalition said on Wednesday that a drone targeted the southern city in the Kingdom.

OIC Secretary-General Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen praised the Saudi-backed coalition and its support for Yemen’s internationally recognized government to deal with terrorism in line with international humanitarian law.

He reiterated the OIC’s solidarity and support for Saudi Arabia in all measures it takes to preserve its security, stability and the safety of its citizens and residents. 

The UAE and Bahrain also condemned and denounced the Houthi attempts to attack civilians and infrastructure.

The UAE urged the international community to take an “immediate and decisive stance” to “stop the recurrent acts,” which target vital and civilian installations and the security and stability of the Kingdom.

Bahrain also called on the international community to condemn terrorism that threatens the region.


‘Delta plus’ variant seen in South Korea ‘is not new’: Saudi expert

‘Delta plus’ variant seen in South Korea ‘is not new’: Saudi expert
Updated 50 min 7 sec ago

‘Delta plus’ variant seen in South Korea ‘is not new’: Saudi expert

‘Delta plus’ variant seen in South Korea ‘is not new’: Saudi expert
  • 102 quarantine violators arrested in Makkah region; 986 new cases reported

JEDDAH: The COVID-19 delta plus variant, detected in two South Korean cases on Tuesday, is “not new and has been detected in India for months,” a Saudi infectious disease expert has said.

“Delta plus was previously detected in the EU since March and in India for months,” said Ahmed Al-Hakawi, who is also a hospital epidemiologist in Riyadh.

South Korea reported its first two cases of the variant earlier this week, with overall COVID-19 cases in the country rising sharply.

Al-Hakawi said that the new form of COVID-19 “differs slightly from the delta variant through the presence of the K417N mutation that was previously detected in the beta mutant.”

He added that the delta plus designation has yet to be approved by medical authorities, and that there is no evidence to suggest that is is more virulent than the original delta variant.

Meanwhile, a total of 102 people in the Makkah region have been arrested for failing to adhere to quarantine regulations after testing positive for COVID-19.

The media spokesman for local police said that preliminary legal procedures were taken against the individuals and their cases were referred to the relevant authorities.

INNUMBERS

530,981 - Total coronavirus cases in Saudi Arabia

512,373 - Total number of recoveries

8,297 - Total number of deaths from COVID-19

Those breaking the Kingdom’s COVID-19 regulations could face fines of up to SR200,000 ($53,000), a maximum of two years in prison, or both. The penalty is doubled for repeated violations.

Non-Saudis found to have breached quarantine rules run the risk of being deported and permanently banned from the country.

Saudi Arabia on Thursday reported 13 more COVID-19-related deaths, bringing the Kingdom’s death toll over the course of the pandemic to 8,297.

There were 986 new cases, meaning that 530,981 people have now contracted the disease. A total of 10,311 cases remained active, of which 1,424 were in critical condition.

Of the newly recorded cases, 189 were in the Makkah region, 177 in the Riyadh region, 162 in the Eastern Province and 55 in Madinah region.

In addition, the Saudi Ministry of Health said that 1,055 patients had recovered from the disease, increasing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 512,373.

The region with the highest number of recoveries was Riyadh with 262. It was followed by the Eastern Province with 194 and Makkah with 151.

Saudi Arabia has so far conducted 25,549,087 PCR tests, with 105,537 carried out in the past 24 hours.

Testing hubs and treatment centers set up throughout the country have dealt with hundreds of thousands of people since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among them, Taakad (make sure) centers provide COVID-19 testing for those who show no or only mild symptoms or believe they have come into contact with an infected individual, while Tetamman (rest assured) clinics offer treatment and advice to those with virus symptoms such as fever, loss of taste and smell, and breathing difficulties.

Appointments for either service can be made via the ministry’s Sehhaty app.

Meanwhile, 28,829,305 people in the Kingdom have now received a COVID-19 vaccine, including 1,501,805 elderly people. About 56.35 percent of the population have received the first dose, while 26.4 percent have completed both doses. At this rate, 70 percent of the population is expected to have completed both doses by Sept. 29 this year.


Islamic principles should form basis of tackling global post-pandemic human rights crises: OIC commission

Islamic principles should form basis of tackling global  post-pandemic human rights crises: OIC commission
Updated 06 August 2021

Islamic principles should form basis of tackling global post-pandemic human rights crises: OIC commission

Islamic principles should form basis of tackling global  post-pandemic human rights crises: OIC commission

JEDDAH: Universal Islamic principles should be used as the basis for tackling world human rights issues in the wake of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, a leading inter-governmental Muslim organization has recommended.

During a meeting to coincide with the 10th anniversary of world Islamic Human Rights and Human Dignity Day, members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) called upon member states to adopt the approach in joint efforts to address post-pandemic global challenges.

Commission delegates pointed out that millions of people in countries around the world continued to face indignities including foreign occupation and oppression, hunger, preventable diseases, limited socioeconomic opportunities, and lack of access to basic needs, all of which seriously undermined their fundamental human rights.

The IPHRC gathering noted that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic had only compounded the existing global human rights situation such as by doubling the number of people facing food crises, and children losing access to basic education and health services.

HIGHLIGHT

IPHRC members recommended that all states should cooperate with their political, religious, and community leaders to promote a better understanding of universal human rights values, collectively deal with the underlying causes of racism and religious intolerance, including islamophobia, and ensure the maintenance of international peace and security.

Members highlighted a growing incidence of cases of hate speech, xenophobia, and racial and religious discrimination, issues they said were driving a wedge through multicultural societies and threatening global peace and security.

While stressing that the conceptual foundation of human rights in Islam placed a strong emphasis on the inherent dignity of human beings and their equality before the law, in harmony with universal human rights principles, the commission urged member countries to work alongside regional and international stakeholders to devise practical human rights-based, people-centered policies to help improve lives.

It also made an appeal for the international community to reinforce respect for diversity, multiculturalism, democracy, and the rule of law, which were at the core of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

IPHRC members recommended that all states should cooperate with their political, religious, and community leaders to promote a better understanding of universal human rights values, collectively deal with the underlying causes of racism and religious intolerance, including islamophobia, and ensure the maintenance of international peace and security.

Welcoming the continued and growing importance placed on human rights issues within the OIC, the commission hailed the adoption of a revised version of the organization’s Cairo Declaration on Human Rights, which it said had helped to bridge the perceptional and legal gaps between the compatibility of universal human rights and Islamic laws.

An ongoing revision of the OIC Covenant on the Rights of the Child in Islam was also applauded as a route to further strengthening the organization’s normative and institutional human rights architecture.


KSrelief sends medical aid to Jamaica in fight against COVID-19

KSrelief sends medical aid to Jamaica in fight against COVID-19
Updated 25 min 20 sec ago

KSrelief sends medical aid to Jamaica in fight against COVID-19

KSrelief sends medical aid to Jamaica in fight against COVID-19

KINGSTON, Jamaica: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) has delivered medical and preventive supplies to Jamaica in a bid to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

On behalf of KSrelief, the medical aid was handed over by Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Cuba Faisal bin Falah Al-Harbi.

The aid comes as an extension of the Kingdom’s humanitarian efforts through KSrelief. It also follows the directives of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Since its inception in May 2015, KSrelief has implemented 1,686 projects worth more than $5.33 billion in 69 countries around the world. The initiatives were carried out in cooperation with 144 local, regional and international partners.

According to a recent KSrelief report, the countries and territories that benefited the most from the center’s various projects were Yemen ($3.8 billion), Palestine ($365 million), Syria ($307 million) and Somalia ($206 million).


Who’s Who: Othman Gazzaz, media affairs chief at Umm Al-Qura University in Makkah

Who’s Who: Othman Gazzaz, media affairs chief at Umm Al-Qura University in Makkah
Updated 06 August 2021

Who’s Who: Othman Gazzaz, media affairs chief at Umm Al-Qura University in Makkah

Who’s Who: Othman Gazzaz, media affairs chief at Umm Al-Qura University in Makkah

Othman Gazzaz heads the research and media affairs department of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Institute for Hajj and Umrah Research at Umm Al-Qura University in Makkah.

Gazzaz holds a bachelor’s degree in media from Umm Al-Qura University. He also received a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in media from the University of Leicester in England.

He published a number of scientific journals such as “The extent of pilgrims and Umrah performers’ reliance on the mobile exhibition using hologram technology to obtain information during the performance of the rituals” in the International Journal of Customer Relationship Marketing and Management earlier this year.

In 2015, Gazzaz published two articles in the Journal of Public Relations Research Middle East titled “Exposure to digital signage and message recall: Determining the effectiveness of the billboard outside the Prophet’s (PBUH) Mosque at Madinah Al-Munawwarah” and “Pilgrim problems and their communication patterns in the Hajj 1434 (H): A study of the communicative ecology of the pilgrim community from Egypt.”

At a conference in Langkawi, Malaysia in 2014, he presented his research “Communicative ecology of sojourners from Pakistan and its implications for public service campaigns.”

The academic also tackled sensitive issues in his research “Responding to the Western satellite TV’s image of Islam and Muslims: Theory & research-based policy challenges.”

Gazzaz was a member of the Association for Social Awareness and Rehabilitation between February 2016 and 2017, and the Association of Neighborhood Centers in Makkah between February 2016 and 2019.