Riyadh, Paris set to im­prove ties — French en­voy

Arab News - - SAUDI ARABIA - MO­HAMMED RASOOLDEEN

RIYADH: New French Am­bas­sador François Gouyette said here that the King­dom and France have a lot of op­por­tu­ni­ties to work to­gether to achieve Saudi 2030 Vi­sion and Na­tional Trans­for­ma­tion Pro­gram (NTP) 2020.

Gouyette, who suc­ceeded for­mer Am­bas­sador Ber­trand Be­san­cenot, was speak­ing last week at a wel­come re­cep­tion hosted by the Coun­cil of Saudi Cham­bers here.

The pro­ceed­ings of the re­cep­tion were chaired by Pres­i­dent of the Saudi- French Busi­ness Coun­cil Dr. Mo­hammed Ali Bin Laden, who de­liv­ered the wel­come ad­dress at the re­cep­tion.

Ap­pre­ci­at­ing the honor ac­corded to him by the CSC, Am­bas­sador Gouyette thanked the mem­bers of the busi­ness com­mu­nity in the cap­i­tal for the recog­ni­tion given to him through the event.

The en­voy pointed out that there are un­prece­dented op­por­tu­ni­ties be­tween the two coun­tries that could be har­nessed for mu­tual in­ter­ests un­der the new pro­grams of the King­dom.

He pointed out that France is the third largest for­eign in­vestor in the King­dom with in­vest­ments of up to $15 bil­lion, which was con­sid­ered a sign of great im­por­tance in the Saudi mar­ket.

Dur­ing the re­cep­tion, busi­ness­men from the two coun­tries also held a meet­ing of the SaudiFrench Busi­ness Coun­cil to dis- cuss the agenda of the coun­cil dur­ing the com­ing pe­riod, es­pe­cially re­gard­ing the vis­its planned to take Saudi busi­ness­men to France.

The meet­ing de­cided to take top­ics such as pri­va­ti­za­tion, hous­ing, train­ing, ed­u­ca­tion, tourism, wa­ter re­sources, and the bank­ing sec­tor’s fund­ing for small- and medi­um­sized com­pa­nies dur­ing the next coun­cil’s meet­ing.

At the con­clu­sion of the meet­ing, the Saudi-French Busi­ness Coun­cil held a lun­cheon in honor of the French am­bas­sador and his en­tourage at the head­quar­ters of the Coun­cil of Saudi Cham­bers.

There are 80 French com­pa­nies op­er­at­ing in the King­dom with 30,000 em­ploy­ees, 30 per­cent of whom are Saudis, which is the high­est level of Saudiza­tion of a work force among for­eign com­pa­nies op­er­at­ing in the King­dom.

Be­sides reg­u­lar busi­nesses, the com­pa­nies also con­duct train­ing for Saudis, and help in the trans­fer of tech­nol­ogy.

On tourism, France ranks as the sec­ond largest des­ti­na­tion for tourists with a to­tal num­ber of vis­i­tors to that coun­try an­nu­ally ex­ceed­ing 220,000.

France is also the third largest in­vestor in the King­dom, and it has strong strate­gic ties, es­pe­cially in the fields of de­fense, the econ­omy, pol­i­tics and cul­ture.

The two coun­tries have agreed to co­op­er­ate more in im­part­ing train­ing to Saudi youths, and ex­plore ar­eas for Saudi-French joint teams to en­gage in ar­chae­o­log­i­cal ex­ca­va­tions.

Ear­lier this year, a joint team of Saudi-French ar­chae­ol­o­gists, car­ry­ing out ex­ca­va­tions on his­tor­i­cal sites in Al-Kharj, dis­cov­ered her­itage ar­ti­facts be­long­ing to the Stone and Bronze ages, and the Ab­basid era, a ma­jor break­through for the pro­mo­tion of her­itage tourism in the Riyadh re­gion.

French Am­bas­sador François Gouyette, third left, with Pres­i­dent of the Saudi-French Busi­ness Coun­cil Dr. Mo­hammed Ali Bin Laden, sec­ond left, and other of­fi­cials at the re­cep­tion in Riyadh.

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