French companies train 27,000 Saudi nationals


Fact that French companies are playing a major role in the development of the Saudi economy was highlighted at the Saudi-French Business Opportunities Forum at its opening session attended by ministers and VIPs from the two nations Tuesday.
Some 80 French companies operate in the Kingdom, many of them helping develop the local high-tech industry, illustrating the excellent economic relations between the two countries.
To date, 27,000 Saudi nationals have been trained by French companies, according to French Secretary of State for Transport Alain Vidalies at the first session of the conference, held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh.
Stressing the ability of French companies to find solutions to respond to the development requirements of the Saudi economy, he said: “Over the past three years we have been committed to expanding and accelerating economic cooperation between France and Saudi Arabia, resulting in the establishment of the Joint Higher Committee under the supervision of Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which has helped strengthen relations, reduce obstacles, and identify potential investment opportunities in the two countries.”
Vidalies praised the ambitious transportation programs implemented by the Kingdom, highlighting the relevant expertise of French transport companies, and discussed the global trend toward clean transport, with Paris soon to host the World Weather Conference, discussing climate change.
The minister also discussed the planned development of the Saudi fishing and fisheries industry to enable it to produce one million tons of fish per annum by 2020, highlighting French expertise and potential investment opportunities.
The strong economic relations between France and Saudi Arabia were also underlined by Minister of Commerce and Industry Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, with the two countries recently exchanging friendly and productive official visits at the highest levels.
Al-Rabiah outlined the Kingdom’s diverse industrial base, highlighting the positive private sector investment environment and administrative and regulatory infrastructure that are enabling relationships and strategic partnerships to develop and prosper, attracting high-tech and value-added investors to Saudi Arabia.
Detailing his ministry’s development of the commercial environment, Al-Rabiah detailed how new systems and streamlined processes are easing administration and registration requirements of inward investors.
As well as discussing trade development between the two nations, the main objectives of the forum include direct investment between France and Saudi Arabia, creating alliances, partnerships and joint investments in large-scale projects, and coordination with the Saudi-French Business Council. Following up forum recommendations by relevant bodies, including industrial and commercial chambers and joint committees are also included.
In a keynote speech, Patrice Caine, CEO of French aerospace and engineering giant Thales, outlined his company’s activities in the Kingdom, offering best practice from the military and industrial sectors, and from their participation in the Makkah Metro project.
Following the keynote, Tariq Al-Manjam, head of the Al-Manjam company, the strategic sponsor of the forum, discussed the investment climate of the Kingdom, and the easing of regulations to allow foreign companies to own retail companies.
The size of the Saudi market and the cost of energy, as well as available facilities, are attractive factors for potential investors, he said, urging French businessmen to take advantage of the available opportunities.
Salem bin Saeed Al-Aydh, CEO of El Seif Engineering Contracting, also highlighted particularly promising investment opportunities, most notably health care, agriculture, information technology and nuclear and renewable energy sectors.
His hope was that the forum would directly contribute to inward investment, support the development of knowledge cities and business centers, and further consolidation of business relations between Riyadh and Paris.


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