RIYADH: Business France, the agency supporting economic development initiatives, held a special equestrian event here to seek partners in Saudi Arabia for its equine industry.
The “French Equestrian Day” in Riyadh from Dec. 12 to 14 saw the participation of several of the European nation’s firms and government entities, including over 10 equestrian companies and those in charge of megaprojects.
Organized for the first time in the Kingdom, the event was inaugurated by the French Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Ludovic Pouille. It was held in line with the goals of the Saudi Vision 2030 to promote healthy and active lifestyles.
On the first day, the Ministry of Sport, the Saudi Equestrian Federation, the Sports Boulevard Foundation and the Equine Hospital in Riyadh presented their strategic objectives.
The director of the Jockey Club, Salem bin Mahfouz, explained how international standards should be adopted and applied in horse racing management. In comments to Arab News en Franҫais, and welcoming the experts, he said France had “expressed its wish to be part of this project.”
Cecile Tardieu, director of Business France Invest, underlined the importance of the mission of the agency, which was to increase exports and attract investments.
Tardieu said France has an established equestrian industry, and has since January 2019 entrusted private partners with supporting small- and medium-sized equestrian businesses worldwide.
Tardieu told Arab News en Franҫais that this partnership project was decided a year ago during the Dubai World Expo. She recognized the potential of the Saudi market and the interest shown by the Kingdom’s authorities to develop sport, including the equestrian industry.
Jean Roch Gaillet, director general of the French Institute of Horse and Riding, said the industry was worth EUR2.5 billion ($2.6 billion) in 2022, providing 22,287 fulltime jobs, and 24.5 percent of total exports.
Among the entities that participated included Pole Hippolia, the only state-certified competitiveness cluster dedicated to the equine sector. Based in Normandy, it brings together a network of more than 210 members throughout France, including business creators, startups, small and medium businesses, research teams, training establishments and institutions.
Other companies present included Antares Sellier, European Horse Services, Equ’Institut, Equi-rider, Equiways, Fornells, Franquet, Gregori International and Labeo, who came specially to Riyadh to showcase their skills in the field.
Arab News en Franҫais also spoke with Ismail Himdi, exclusive representative of Gregori International, which specializes in the development of training grounds and outdoor stadiums. Himdi said “the Saudi market presents a lot of opportunities.”