RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s partnership with French firms will have a direct impact on materializing the goals outlined in Vision 2030, said the Kingdom’s Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih as he stressed the importance of relations with the European nation.
Speaking at the France-Saudi Investment Forum in Paris on Monday, Al-Falih noted that both countries are pursuing their economic goals under the strong guidance of their respective leaders.
His sentiment was echoed by Olivier Becht, France’s minister for foreign trade, attractiveness and French nationals abroad, who said Saudi Arabia is the most important trading partner for the European nation in the Middle East region.
Al-Falih talked up the importance of Saudi-French relations as the Kingdom seeks to diversify its economy away from oil under the Vision 2030 initiative.
“In 2026, we will be celebrating 100 years of (a) diplomatic relationship between France and Saudi Arabia. Many of Saudi Arabia’s achievements in Vision 2030 will have the fingerprints of French-Saudi partnerships,” said the minister, during his opening speech at the forum.
He added: “Both countries hold bold ambitions and we have every reason to feel confident that our ambitions to realize Saudi Vision 2030 and France’s 2030 plan will be achieved, especially with the strong dynamic leadership that both countries enjoy under His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman under the guidance of King Salman, and France under the guidance of Emmanuel Macron.”
During the speech, Al-Falih noted that the trade between Saudi Arabia and France amounted to €11 billion ($12 billion) in 2022, which marked a growth of 47 percent compared to 2021.
He further pointed out that France is currently the third largest investor in Saudi Arabia, with investments amounting to €15 billion.
“My records show we have more than 110 French companies in Saudi Arabia. We have 360 licenses that have been granted to wholly owned French companies or joint ventures from France that are operating in the Kingdom, with their presence expanding 43 percent since 2020,” said Al-Falih.
The investment minister added that Saudi Arabia’s economic and investment performance, in line with the goals outlined in Vision 2030, has started showing results, and the Kingdom is expected to achieve many of its economic diversification goals earlier than planned.
“The Kingdom’s economic and investment performance at the midway point between the launch of Saudi Vision 2030 and its completion by the end of this decade is very much ahead of schedule,” he said.
According to Al-Falih, both France and Saudi Arabia share a strong relationship in various sectors, including energy, transport and aviation, as well as education and the arts.
Investment forums like these will elevate these ties to new heights, said the minister.
Saudi Arabia is the most important trading partner for France
Becht used his address to the forum to insist that Saudi Arabia and France should continue working together to maintain the momentum of economic and trade ties, and highlighted the role of both nations in ensuring a sustainable future.
“The common goal of France and Saudi Arabia is to boost our bilateral ties as much as possible in all dimensions. Saudi Arabia is the leading destination for French direct investments in the Gulf region,” said the French minister.
Becht also lauded Saudi Arabia’s efforts to ensure sustainability, especially in its giga-projects which include the $500 billion sustainable city development NEOM.
“In climate change issues, it is the responsibility of Saudi Arabia and France, as G20 nations, to ensure the funding to fight against this unprecedented global challenge. Sustainable cities can lead to intense cooperation between France and Saudi Arabian companies,” Becht said.
He added: “Our visions look toward the same direction. It offers unprecedented opportunities to strengthen our mutual investments and offer know-how and expertise. Our two states should continue to work hand-in-hand to build a more sustainable future.”