Saudi crown prince’s visit to focus on culture, tourism and business

French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian welcomes Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at Paris-Le Bourget airport on Sunday. AFP
Updated 09 April 2018

Saudi crown prince’s visit to focus on culture, tourism and business

  • Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and President Emmanuel Macron meeting on Tuesday.
  • Kingdom tapping into French expertise on culture and tourism

PARIS: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrived in France on Sunday on the fourth leg of his international tour for a stop that will focus on building relations over culture and tourism.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian received the crown prince at the Paris Le-Bourget Airport. The Saudi Ambassador to France, Dr. Khalid Al-Anqari, and French Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Francois Gouyette were also present.
The crown prince arrived from his three-week tour of the US, which finished in Houston where he met former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. While in America he met US President Donald Trump and political leaders in Washington, finance chiefs in New York and the CEOs of the tech and entertainment worlds on the West Coast.
In France, the visit will include business events and a meeting with President Emmanuel Macron, a similarly young and ambitious leader keen on radical reforms.
But the main focus will be on culture and tourism as the Kingdom looks to tap into French expertise to help develop its archaeological sites and preserve its heritage.
Details of a collaboration between the two countries over the ancient site of Al-Ula, which contains the Madain Saleh tombs are expected to be announced during a high-profile gala dinner.
Several other cultural events have also been arranged to coincide with the visit. 
The Misk Foundation, the crown prince’s philanthropic organization to develop arts and culture, is holding a two-day event at one of the most famous museums in the French capital, the Arab World Institute. The event will include an art exhibition, a virtual reality film and cultural performances.
The Kingdom’s General Culture Authority has organized a cultural event that lasts for three days starting on Monday and will showcase films, exhibitions and performances from young Saudi artists at the Palais de Tokyo.
On Tuesday, the crown prince will meet with Macron at the Élysée Palace, when the two men are expected to discuss a range of issues, including Syria, the war in Yemen and Iranian influence in the region.
France has taken a tougher line on Iran since Macron became the president and has strongly condemned Tehran’s ballistic missile program.
Around 18 memorandums of understanding in energy, agriculture, tourism and culture are set to be signed at an official Saudi-France CEO Forum on Tuesday, a source close to the crown prince’s delegation told AFP.
“This is not a traditional state visit,” another source close to the Saudi delegation told AFP. “It is about forging a new partnership with France, not just shopping for deals.”
Macron’s office said the trip would also focus on investment in the digital economy as well as renewable energy, as the world’s top crude exporter pumps billions of dollars in the sector in a bid to diversify its economy.

KSRelief launches humanitarian projects in Somaliland

Updated 25 September 2020

KSRelief launches humanitarian projects in Somaliland

HARGEISA: King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) has launched projects with a total value of $2.2 million in Somaliland, it announced on Wednesday.

The projects, launched in cooperation with the Norwegian Refugee Council, will reportedly benefit around 100,000 people and cover the fields of women’s and children’s rights, water, environmental sanitation, and education.

Hassan Mohammed Ali, Somaliland’s minister of planning and national development, thanked Saudi Arabia for supporting the nations of the Islamic world in general, and Somaliland in particular.

The assistant director of KSRelief in Africa, Youssef Al-Rahma, said the projects form part of KSRelief's relief and development efforts in Somaliland across several sectors, in addition to raising awareness to fight the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

In a related development, Najd Health Center in Yemen’s Socotra governorate continues to provide medical services with the generous support of KSRelief in cooperation with the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). The center provides vital services to pregnant women, mothers and children. Beneficiaries expressed their gratitude and appreciation to KSRelief.

KSRelief has also been distributing food baskets to Syrian and Palestinian refugees and the most-vulnerable Lebanese families in several parts of Lebanon.