A report released by the Authority to coincide with Prince Salman’s visit said there were moves currently being enacted in both the private and public sectors in both countries to set up joint Saudi–French companies with a specific mandate to invest in the Kingdom, especially in the technology sector.
Total French investments in the Kingdom reached 75 billion Saudi riyals (20 billion US dollars) in 2013, with 64 investment permits granted for French investment projects over the last three years, bringing the total number in Saudi Arabia to 182, the report said.
It also said the Kingdom was one of France’s most important trading partners in the MENA region, and the most important Gulf trading partner, with bilateral trade reaching 52 billion riyals (13.7 billion dollars) in 2013, up 16 percent from the previous year. French exports to the Kingdom totaled around 20 billion riyals (5.25 billion dollars) in 2013, while Saudi exports to France reached 32 billion riyals (8.4 billion dollars) in the same year.
The report pointed out that most of the Kingdom’s largest private sector companies already have agreements with French companies. Among the most prominent of these include a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between French water and waste group Veolia and a national Saudi investment company to provide water treatment, sanitation and waste management services to the Kingdom.
The report added that more than 7,000 Saudi nationals were currently working at French companies in the Kingdom or as part of projects funded by French investments, accounting for 38 percent of employees in these businesses.
Meanwhile, the 34th session of the Saudi–French Business Council was held in Paris on Tuesday also to coincide with the Prince’s visit. Opening the session, the head of the authority, Abdul Latif Al-Othman, told French and Saudi business leaders that the Kingdom was witnessing a “revolutionary era” in government services, which would significantly help ease procedures facing foreign investors in the Kingdom.
The meeting was also attended by Crown Prince Salman, who, in a speech to the Council, said the Kingdom’s stability and the lucrative incentives it offered investors made it one of the most attractive destinations in the region for foreign capital.