Saudi Gazette - Message from Ambassador - Since 1996, France and Saudi Arabia are tied by a strategic partnership that reflects the importance of the relationship between the two countries.
This privileged relationship, established when King Faisal met with General de Gaulle in 1967, has been confidently active in various cooperation fields: political, military, security, economical and cultural.
Further to the visit paid by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, to Paris in June 2007, followed by President of the Republic’s visit to Riyadh in January 2008, November 2008 and in October 2009, it has been decided, at highest levels, to give a new impetus to our strategic partnership, aimed at being global and focused on transfer of competence. Major cooperation agreements were signed in 2008, which are now implemented in the sectors of education (university and technical), security, political counseling and energy.
A close cooperation is maintained on the major political matters of the region where our positions widely converge, particularly in showing firmness toward Iran and Syria, supporting Lebanon’s independence, promoting a fair peace process between Palestine and Israel and assisting the stabilisation of Egypt. We particularly value Saudi efforts and contributions to the Middle East stability and its successful mediation with the GCC regarding a peaceful transition in Yemen. Saudi Arabia is a major ally in our common fight against international terrorism and we also share in this regard the promotion of dialogue between religions and civilizations, launched by King Abdullah.
As far as the economy is concerned, we also praise the Kingdom’s wise policy in the petroleum sector, particularly in the context of the rising energy prices in 2011. Many of our firms actively participate in major development projects. In the last three years, our exports to the Kingdom doubled. Furthermore, we are proud of the sizeable contracts signed by French companies in water treatment, electricity and transport sectors. Our firms are also active in the distribution, hotel, food and luxury industries. We welcome the strengthening, this year, of the cooperation between Airbus and Saudia on one hand and with Air France on the other hand.
Saudi Arabia’s potential, its massive development program and its partnerships’ diversification strategy offer a promising outlook for France for the coming years. We have signed this year a cooperation agreement in the civil nuclear sector, which will open a new avenue to our strategic partnership. Saudi Arabia is our second commercial partner in the Middle East, 70 French companies are active in the Kingdom giving jobs to 20000 employees. France is the 3rd largest foreign investor in Saudi Arabia with more than $15 billion invested in the Saudi economy.
France and Saudi Arabia have also strengthened their military and security cooperation with the doubling of our joint military exercises in 2011 and with the continual growing of our trainee program for Saudi security officers in the field of counter-terrorism, alongside with our ancient cooperation with the Prince Naif Arab University for Security Sciences.
In the field of cultural cooperation, the number of Saudi students studying in France went from less than 100 in 2007 to more than 1200 this year. The French Accor group is creating in Saudi Arabia four trainee centers, aiming to train 12000 young Saudis in the field of tourism and hospitality. France has strengthened its cooperation in archeology and museum with the Kingdom.
The French Embassy in Riyadh and the French Consulate General in Jeddah offer monthly cultural events that allow Saudi and French public to gather in sharing different cultures of the world.
To conclude, we are determined to strengthen even more this strategic partnership in all areas for the mutual benefit of our friendly nations. This is the message that President Hollande conveyed to King Abdullah through Prince Mit’eb Bin Abdullah when he was received in the Elysee Palace on June 12.
Ambassador of France