On Sept. 12, 1952, Mexico and Saudi Arabia established diplomatic relations. On Sept. 16, 1810, Mexicans started the quest for independence, leading us to celebrate our National Day on this date.
Similarly, Sept. 23 marks Saudi Arabia’s National Day. For this reason, Mexicans and Saudis agree that September is a month of celebration.
Aside from these historical facts, there is much more that bonds us. I find it remarkable how two geographically distant countries can share an array of values representative of their societies. Those of us Mexicans lucky to have a Saudi friend notice them easily. Both Mexicans and Saudis place great importance on family ties. We value our friendships and recognize ourselves as caring people. We also face life with affability, and we understand that the wealth of our countries lies on our land and our people.
Considering these commonalities, Mexicans and Saudis connect through culture. The Spanish language ― the second most spoken in the world ― has more than 4,000 words of Arabic origin, according to the deceased philologist Rafael Lapesa, who was a member of the Royal Spanish Academy of Language. One of these words is “ojala,” which derives from “Inshallah,” and we often use it in Spanish for wishful thinking.
Traditions and cultural expressions bring us naturally closer. Our passion for music and dance, for example, was displayed during the event “Marvels of Saudi” in Mexico City, an unprecedented concert in which Saudi musicians performed accompanied by the Carlos Chavez Symphony Orchestra and the mariachi of the National Folkloric Ballet Amalia Hernandez.
We also rely on our handcrafts and our textiles to tell our story. Earlier this year in June, Mexican textile artists showcased their work and a part of Mexican art and history during the International Week of Handicrafts at the Riyadh International Convention Center.
As G20 countries, Mexico and Saudi Arabia are regional leaders with a promising future
Both of us also share a passion for sports, especially football. Mexicans and Saudis were among the most numerous 2022 FIFA World Cup attendees. This event also allowed Mexico and KSA to meet each other on and off the field. Mexico, the US and Canada will host the next FIFA World Cup, and we look forward to hosting our Saudi friends in 2026.
Speaking of passion, let us mention food. Traditional Mexican gastronomy is UNESCO World Heritage listed and is well known among Saudis, who have a good taste for food. Everyone in Riyadh can now try one of the new four authentic Mexican restaurants: Don Ruben’s, Tacoson, El Placer and El Camino.
All these shared values and commonalities have paved the way for a fluid political dialogue, particularly in recent years. Within this context of reciprocal respect, appreciation and growing friendship, high-level authorities from both countries have been meeting in recent times. This year, our former minister of foreign affairs in Mexico City met Saudi Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih, and the Mexican vice minister of foreign affairs and vice minister of finance conducted an unprecedented joint visit to Riyadh, accompanied by a business delegation.
Mexico and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia also see eye to eye in many aspects of global importance, such as political dialogue being the premise to solve conflicts, the free market as an engine for national economies, the importance of the gender equality agenda and the cooperation efforts for a greener world. This has led to exploring opportunities to strengthen our relationship in many fields, mainly trade and investment, considering that our trade balance does not reflect the size of our economies.
By leveraging the nearshoring trend, there are new possibilities for the economic relationship between Saudi Arabia and Mexico to thrive. More than six Mexican business delegations have visited the Kingdom in the past year. Since this July, a halal center in Mexico has been approved by Saudi authorities, which opens the way for Mexican meat of remarkable quality to enter the Saudi market.
As G20 countries, Mexico and Saudi Arabia are regional leaders with a promising future. Mexico is a bridge between North America and Latin America, and a link between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Saudi Arabia is also a connecting point and a reference in the Middle East and the Arab world, and a crucial partner for other countries of different regions.
Mexico and Saudi Arabia have much to contribute to the world and our respective regions — what we say and do matters. For all these reasons, September is a perfect opportunity to celebrate ourselves and our friendship. Viva Mexico! Tahya Al-Mamlakah Al-Arabia Al-Saudia!
• Anibal Gomez Toledo is the ambassador of Mexico to Saudi Arabia.