French ambassador completes diplomatic term, bids farewell to Saudi Arabia

French ambassador completes diplomatic term, bids farewell to Saudi Arabia
Saudi Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Waleed Elkhereiji recently organized a reception on the occasion of Ludovic Pouille’s end of term as ambassador of France to the Kingdom. (X/ludovic_pouille)
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Updated 10 July 2024
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French ambassador completes diplomatic term, bids farewell to Saudi Arabia

French ambassador completes diplomatic term, bids farewell to Saudi Arabia
  • ‘Our joint future will be radiant,’ says Ludovic Pouille

RIYADH: Appointed French ambassador to Saudi Arabia in 2020, Ludovic Pouille is at the end of his diplomatic mission in the country.

Arab News en Francais caught up with the ambassador for an interview, in which he discussed the main aspects of bilateral relations between the Kingdom and France.

Pouille told Arab News: “During my four years in office, I have had the opportunity to witness Saudi Arabia’s commitment to a vast and ambitious program of reform and modernization in all sectors — economic, social and cultural — spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.”

He added that over the past two years, bilateral relations were marked by various ministerial and parliamentary visits, illustrating the importance attached to the Kingdom by French authorities, including the visit by President Emmanuel Macron in December 2021. The crown prince’s visit to France in in July 2022 and June 2023 also marked “a very important moment in the history of our relations,” Pouille said.

Commercial relations between France and Saudi Arabia are flourishing in all sectors, particularly in the key sectors of Saudi Arabia’s economic transformation plan.

The French ambassador said: “In 2023, trade in goods between France and Saudi Arabia reached €9.5 billion ($10.2 billion), an increase of 18 percent compared to 2016, when Vision 2030 was launched. French exports to Saudi Arabia have continued to rise since 2019, driven by various industries, and amounted to €4.2 billion in 2023.

“The dynamism of our aeronautics sector, and the recognition of French expertise, have enabled our exports in the sector to be doubled in 2023 compared with 2021. I am also delighted with the recent contract signed between the Saudia group and Airbus on May 20.”

France is involved in many mega-projects thanks to its companies, which play a major role in achieving the economic objectives of the two countries. “I am convinced that our joint future will be radiant, thanks in particular to the development of artificial intelligence, in which France is a major player, promising a successful digital transition in many sectors,” he added.

Investment is a key area, and the stock of French direct investment in Saudi Arabia is estimated at almost $5 billion in value, mainly concentrated in the energy and industrial sectors.

Major French groups are particularly well positioned in renewable energies, including EDF, Engie, TotalEnergies, and the water sector, including Saur, Suez, Veolia — these areas are the focus of highly ambitious national programs implemented in the form of private investment.

More recently, French companies and investors have shown particular interest in the health, digital and high added-value technology sectors, notably through the French Tech label and its 22,000 startups, Pouille said.

France, he added, has created economic partnerships and cooperation in all areas, including energy, water and the environment, transport and logistics, tourism, leisure and culture, sport, health, agri-food, new technologies, aeronautics and space, as well as financial services and investments.

“France, the world’s leading tourist destination, is proud to offer its expertise to the Kingdom, which has major ambitions in this area,” said Pouille. “Whether it’s building infrastructure, training young people or organizing major sporting or cultural events.

“France excels in all these sectors, which are at the heart of Saudi Vision 2030. The AlUla laboratories, which has been the subject of exceptional cooperation between our two countries since 2018, is exemplary in this respect.”

The ambassador also noted that the results of Saudi-French cultural cooperation are “more than positive; they have been enriched by our respective know-how and our joint initiatives in various fields such as fashion, architecture, art and education.

“The news I’m most delighted about, of course, is the award to Saudi Arabia of the organization of World Expo 2030. This is a resounding success, to which France contributed by lending its support to the bid in the summer of 2022,” he added.

The ambassador said that many events took place during his diplomatic mandate, including the Riyadh Season, the First Riyadh Biennial of Contemporary Art, the Red Sea Film Festival in Jeddah, the DesertX exhibition in AlUla, the Noor Riyadh festival and the MDLBeast Sandstorm Festival.

“Just a few days ago, I had the immense honor of awarding the Medal of Arts and Letters to a number of Saudi personalities who have contributed to the development of culture in Saudi Arabia, including Her Highness Princess Adwa bint Yazid bint Abdullah Al-Saud, Ahmed Mater, Mohannad Shono and Noura Bin Saidan.”

Reflecting on his time in the Kingdom, the ambassador added: “To the Saudis, I want to say thank you! I express my deep gratitude for the warm welcome they have given my family and me during my four years in Riyadh. I will have unforgettable memories of this country and its ambitious and talented men and women.

“To my 7,000 compatriots, I would also like to thank them for helping and guiding me in my mission to serve our country and the bilateral relationship with the Kingdom,” he said. “I would like to tell them to continue their work and to continue sowing the seeds of our cooperation, because in the end, they are our country’s true ambassadors in Saudi Arabia.

“Finally, when I return to France, I will encourage my compatriots not to hesitate for a second to come and visit, work or study in Saudi Arabia.”


KSrelief launches training program for orphan supervisors in Yemen

KSrelief launches training program for orphan supervisors in Yemen
Updated 54 min 1 sec ago
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KSrelief launches training program for orphan supervisors in Yemen

KSrelief launches training program for orphan supervisors in Yemen

RIYADH: The Saudi aid agency KSrelief has started a training program for people supervising orphans in Yemen’s coastal area of Hadramout in coordination with the country’s ministry of social affairs and labor.

The initiative is part of the agency’s Sanad for Orphans project to “enhance the efficiency and capabilities of orphan supervisors through skills development, knowledge enhancement, and practical behavioral training,” the Saudi Press Agency said.

It will also cover practices related to orphan protection and care.

The Sanad project provides social, educational and economic empowerment programs for orphans and their families. As part of this initiative, a training program will be provided for 30 social supervisors from organizations working in orphan care in Hadramout and Taiz governorates.


Skill meets heritage in initiative boosting Saudi handicrafts sector

Skill meets heritage in initiative boosting Saudi handicrafts sector
Updated 13 July 2024
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Skill meets heritage in initiative boosting Saudi handicrafts sector

Skill meets heritage in initiative boosting Saudi handicrafts sector
  • Saudi Artisanal Company is ‘leveraging the country’s cultural wealth to empower local artisans’

JEDDAH/RIYADH: The Saudi Artisanal Company is playing a central role in the development of Saudi Arabia’s flourishing handicrafts sector — a reminder of the Kingdom’s rich heritage and commitment to honoring its traditions.

According to the company’s acting CEO, Ibrahim Al-Dulaijan, the SAC is “leveraging the country’s cultural wealth to empower Saudi artisans, build sustainable partnerships, and deliver Saudi-crafted goods that are an integral part of the nation’s legacy.

Saudi Artisanal Company equips skilled local artisans with the latest technologies to create their pieces. (AN photos by Loai Al-Kellawy)

“The company not only supports its skilled local artisans but also equips them with the latest technologies to create their pieces blending heritage, tradition, and innovation.”

Al-Dulaijan told Arab News in a written statement: “Empowering local artisans and designers is a key element of the company’s operations. We have activated a strategic partnership with the Royal Institute of Traditional Arts, through which practical training is provided for artisans, offering them practical and profitable opportunities in the artisanal field.”

HIGHLIGHT

Saudi Artisanal Company’s strategic partnership with the Royal Institute of Traditional Arts provides practical training to artisans.

Part of the training includes extensive research on the history and cultural significance of various products.

Saudi Artisanal Company equips skilled local artisans with the latest technologies to create their pieces. (AN photos by Loai Al-Kellawy)

“The team believes in the importance of preserving heritage and reviving and empowering crafts approved by the Heritage Authority. This belief is reflected in the communication, implementation, and supervision processes with artisans and designers.” Al-Dulaijan added.

The resulting products “reflect genuine heritage” and “tell enriching stories,” he said.

Saudi Artisanal Company equips skilled local artisans with the latest technologies to create their pieces. (AN photos by Loai Al-Kellawy)

During a recent visit to the company’s studio in Riyadh’s JAX district, Arab News witnessed some of these skilled artisans at work. Each of them has dedicated years to perfecting their craft, whether working with wool, wicker, wood, plaster, or engraving.

Abeer Al-Rabiah, the product design manager at the company, spoke to Arab News about her background and approach to design.

We aim to enhance our culture, preserve our identity, and pass on our heritage to future generations.

Sadiq Al-Hajri, Artisan supervisor, Saudi Artisanal Company

Growing up in an artistic household, she was surrounded by art and design but also had a strong interest in science. Al-Rabiah felt torn between these passions until discovering industrial design, which combines elements of both.

The Saudi Khawlani coffee collection, a piece that celebrates Saudi coffee, was one of the award-winning products featured in their studio. (AN photo by Loai El-kellawy)

She emphasized that product design is not just about creating beautiful objects but also about considering their functionality and manufacturability.

Al-Rabiah highlighted the responsibility designers have toward the environment, especially when creating products for mass production.

“Handmade products are a lot more sustainable and eco-friendly than products designed in factories,” she said. “This is the main thing that drew me into the crafts field — the materials used, usually natural materials. You’re not using an entire factory that’s producing a lot of toxins into the environment.

Sadiq Al-Hajri, the artisan’s supervisor showcased the steadiness and intricate carving techniques perfected by the artisans. (AN photo by Loai El-kellawy)

“We do a lot of research before making every product and try to connect our history, culture, and heritage into the design,” she added. “Every product that we make either has a story or a meaning that is related to our heritage and culture. The fact that the products are handmade by Saudi hands, with crafts that have been in the region for years, also connects it to our heritage.

“We try to highlight parts of our heritage that are kind of forgotten or not widely talked about. A good example would be our Khawlani coffee collection. The Arabian Peninsula had a Golden Age when coffee was produced here and sent throughout the entire world.”

Many of the craftsman at the Saudi Artisan Company dedicate hours of their day carving, weaving, and designing products that highlight the Kingdoms culture and heritage. (AN photo by Loai El-kellawy)

The collection is an award-winning piece that celebrates Saudi coffee. The 3D-modeled cover and hand-crafted wooden box reflect the mountainous terrains of the coffee-producing regions of the Kingdom, specifically Mount Talan.

Inside the box sit two porcelain coffee cups inspired by coffee fruits, along with coffee capsules filled with a blend of espresso and Saudi Khawlani coffee.

Saudi Artisanal Company equips skilled local artisans with the latest technologies to create their pieces. (AN photos by Loai Al-Kellawy)

The Khawlani coffee collection won Best Luxury Item at the International Institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Arts and Tourism Awards earlier this year, while the dates bowls collection won Best Contemporary Interpretation and Design.

“It’s a global award that we’re very proud of,” Al-Rabiah added.

The craftsman at the Saudi Artisan Company dedicate their careers to preserving and showcasing the Saudi heritage through their handmade products. (AN photo by Loai El-kellawy)

The SAC also has an online store offering more than 100 products, with local and international shipping options available.

“The company also participates in certain seasons and events. For example, we displayed artisans’ products during this year’s Hajj season,” Al-Dulaijan said. “Additionally, we’ll be opening stores in several cities in the Kingdom to serve citizens, residents, and tourists by providing high-quality artisanal products, supporting local products, and empowering local artisans and designers.”

Fatima Al-Thubyani, production unit manager at the company’s workshop, has eight years of experience in the field of handicrafts and an academic background in fashion design.

Al-Thubyani told Arab News, “To support the emerging generation, we use modern materials paired with traditional heritage patterns, creating contemporary and innovative outcomes. This approach integrates designers and artisans, providing sustainable job opportunities.”

The company invites artisans and designers from all over the Kingdom to collaborate, whether by showcasing their products on various sales platforms, participating in training programs, or working on business opportunities together. This mutual collaboration provides sustainable income sources for them and is, the company says, “pivotal in driving a significant transformation in the artisanal sector.”

Sadiq Al-Hajri, the artisan’s supervisor, who has more than 14 years of experience in the field, said: “We aim to enhance our culture, preserve our identity, and pass on our heritage to future generations. We strive to convey what our ancestors were, what we have added, and what the next generation will add.

“My interest in handicraft industries began at a young age, specifically with wood carving. Through workshops, I aim to demonstrate to artisans how an artisan as an artist differs from an artisan as a producer. We work to value artisans by providing the necessary tools to achieve outstanding work.”

The SAC has participated in numerous local and international events and exhibitions, such as the Artigiano in Fiera exhibition in Italy and the Benan exhibition in the Kingdom. International participation is a “significant focus” for the near future, according to Al-Dulaijan, in order to “introduce Saudi heritage to the world.”

 


Natural beauty of Baha’s Raghadan Park attracts visitors

Raghadan Park in Baha boasts a forest with a lavender garden and a central area which spans over 20,000 sq. meters. (SPA)
Raghadan Park in Baha boasts a forest with a lavender garden and a central area which spans over 20,000 sq. meters. (SPA)
Updated 13 July 2024
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Natural beauty of Baha’s Raghadan Park attracts visitors

Raghadan Park in Baha boasts a forest with a lavender garden and a central area which spans over 20,000 sq. meters. (SPA)
  • Mayor welcomes tourists to popular location

RIYADH: With its vast green spaces, dense forest and mild climate, Raghadan Park is among Baha’s most popular destinations for tourists looking for outdoor fun.

In an interview with the Saudi Press Agency, Ali Al-Sawat, the mayor of the Baha region, spoke of the municipal projects within Raghadan Forest Park.

Raghadan Park in Baha boasts a forest with a lavender garden and a central area which spans over 20,000 sq. meters. (SPA)

He said: “These projects encompass Bahjat Raghadan Park, which spans an estimated 20,000 sq. meters, (with a) 700-meter main walkway, and 18,000 sq. meters of green spaces.

“The park also boasts a 30-meter waterfall, an interactive fountain, 156 decorative columns, three children’s areas, three photography zones, and a 25-meter decorative pedestrian bridge.”

Raghadan Park in Baha boasts a forest with a lavender garden and a central area which spans over 20,000 sq. meters. (SPA)

The site, which includes cafes and eateries, also boasts a forest with a lavender garden and a central area which spans over 20,000 sq. meters, he added.

The central square covers 8,000 sq. meters and is connected to the garden, which occupies some 5,000 sq. meters. Adjacent to it is a 500-meter walkway covered with natural stone and featuring waterfalls.

Raghadan Park in Baha boasts a forest with a lavender garden and a central area which spans over 20,000 sq. meters. (SPA)

The project is illuminated by about 270 decorative lighting poles and includes statues, flower beds, seating areas, wooden bridges, and kiosks.

The mayor welcomes tourists and visitors to the location to enjoy its atmosphere, stunning views, valleys, and lush vegetation.

 


Saudi ambassador to UAE received by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid in Dubai

Saudi ambassador to UAE received by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid in Dubai
Updated 13 July 2024
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Saudi ambassador to UAE received by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid in Dubai

Saudi ambassador to UAE received by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid in Dubai
  • Sheikh Mohammed, who is also vice president and prime minister of UAE, wished ambassador success in his mission

DUBAI: Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum received the Saudi ambassador to the UAE Sultan bin Abdullah Al-Angari on Saturday during a reception in the emirate, Saudi Press Agency reported.

Sheikh Mohammed, who is also vice president and prime minister of UAE, wished the ambassador success in his mission.

Al-Angari passed on the greetings of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Sheikh Mohammed, along with their wishes for continued progress and prosperity to the government and people of the UAE.

The envoy was appointed last year and presented his credentials to Minister of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Shakhboot Nahyan Al-Nahyan in October.


Saudi foreign ministry condemns continued genocide against Palestinian people

Saudi foreign ministry condemns continued genocide against Palestinian people
Updated 14 July 2024
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Saudi foreign ministry condemns continued genocide against Palestinian people

Saudi foreign ministry condemns continued genocide against Palestinian people
  • Saudi Arabia renewed its call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire and the provision of protection to unarmed civilians

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed on Saturday the Kingdom’s condemnation and denunciation in the strongest terms of the “continued genocidal massacres against the Palestinian people at the hands of the Israeli war machine.”

The ministry drew particular attention to the latest targeting of displaced Palestinians at camps in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, which claimed the lives of 100 people.

Saudi Arabia renewed its call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire and the provision of protection to unarmed civilians in all occupied Palestinian territories.

The ministry also stressed the need to activate international accountability mechanisms regarding the continued Israeli violations of international humanitarian law and resolutions.

The UAE and Bahrain condemned and denounced on Sunday the continuing Israeli violations in the Gaza Strip, and the most recent targeting of camps for displaced people in Khan Younis, southern Gaza, which led to numerous deaths and injuries to dozens of innocent civilians.

In a statements issued by both foreign ministries, they called for the respect of international law and international humanitarian law regarding the protection of civilians and civilian objects, an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, and to allow unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance at scale directly to Palestinian civilians

Also on Saturday, the Muslim World League condemned the massacre in Khan Yunis.

The League’s Secretary-General, Muhammad bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, in a statement denounced the “heinous crime” and the Israeli occupation’s “continued flagrant violations of all international and humanitarian laws and norms.”

Al-Issa stressed the urgent need for the international community to intervene to stop the violence raging in Gaza.