TONOMUS launches competition to find high-tech solutions for a billion people

“We’re looking to recreate that here just like they did in Silicon Valley,” said Beverly Rider, CEO of TONOMUS Venture Studio. (AN Photo/Huda Bashatah)
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Updated 12 February 2023

TONOMUS launches competition to find high-tech solutions for a billion people

  • NEOM subsidiary seeks proposals in energy, food, mobility
  • Aim to foster global entrepreneurship, new ways of living

RIYADH: TONOMUS, the cognitive multinational subsidiary of NEOM, has announced the launch of its second venture startup competition at LEAP23 in Riyadh.

Led by the firm’s TONOMUS Venture Studio, the competition started on Feb. 6, and is titled “The Next Billion.” It is an initiative that invites participants to consider new technologies and innovations that a billion people in the world would require for energy, food and mobility.

“We’re looking to recreate that here just like they did in Silicon Valley,” said Beverly Rider, CEO of TONOMUS Venture Studio.

The aim is to foster global entrepreneurship that will nurture the environment and create new ways of community living.

Rider added: “TONOMUS Venture Studio has a bunch of different objectives. So it’s a programmatic display of how you bring entrepreneurship and startups to our region. So what we found when we got NEOM is that one of the things we were missing was an entrepreneurial ecosystem and the small businesses that really fuel the economy, and they take the large companies and create the value around them.”


• NEOM subsidiary seeks proposals in energy, food, mobility.

• Aim to foster global entrepreneurship, new ways of living.

Rider said Saudi Arabia’s entrepreneurial vision and diversification of the economy stemming from Vision 2030 makes it an interesting hub prospect in the world.

“Come to the Kingdom? So actually, you would think that that would be the hard part, but that’s been our easy part. Everybody wants to come. The great thing about having a recession in the rest of the world is that people are really interested in looking into new horizons and new geographies. But more importantly than that, the megaprojects have given us an opportunity to basically, you know, start from the bottom and work our way up,” said Rider.



Up to 20 semifinalist teams will receive individualized coaching by experts from TONOMUS Venture Studio, and up to four winning teams will be invited to a 12-week program to incubate their ideas. The competition will welcome submissions until April 12, 2023.

Rider stressed that creating a community is key. “We asked people to come and talk to us about these solutions, their startup, or their ideas. So at about 100 people showed up yesterday. We’re going to do six more of them next year.”

TONOMUS Venture Studio comprises both established and emerging entrepreneurs. It aims to cement NEOM’s reputation as the epicenter of innovation, and the Kingdom as a place where the world’s brightest minds and top tech talent can bring their ideas to life.

Saudi Arabia’s Farasan Islands offer rich biodiversity and ecotourism potential

Updated 10 June 2023

Saudi Arabia’s Farasan Islands offer rich biodiversity and ecotourism potential

  • Farasan is made up of more than 170 islands and islets off the Kingdom’s coast of Jazan
  • These hidden gems of the Red Sea are host to ancient sites and diverse marine habitats

RIYADH: Located in the pristine turquoise waters of the Red Sea, roughly 50 km west of the Saudi port city of Jazan in the southwest corner of the country, is an archipelago made up of about 170 islands known as the Farasan Islands.

Long the subject of fascination, not least for their natural beauty but also their rich history dating back to the ancient Romans and the time of Ottoman rule over the Arabian Peninsula, the Farasan Islands are considered a rising star by the Kingdom’s tourism industry.

“Saudi has more than 1,300 islands spotted across its coastlines,” a spokesperson for the Saudi Tourism Authority told Arab News. “As part of Vision 2030, Saudi is working on a number of ambitious island projects with sustainability at the heart of preserving these natural wonders.”

An ancient mosque has withstood the test of time in a deserted village in the Farasan islands. (Shutterstock)

A paradise for divers, the archipelago’s coral islands offer precious opportunities for the study and appreciation of marine biodiversity.

The coastlines and islands of the Red Sea are characterized by a variety of ecosystems, including red and black mangroves, seagrass beds, coral, saltmarshes and macroalgal reefs.

The islands are composed of reef limestone, rising to elevations of between 10 to 20 meters above sea level. The highest point among the islands reaches some 75 meters above sea level.

Aerial view of a boat touring the lush mangroves and waterways of the Farasan Islands. (Saudi Tourism Authority photo)

The coastlines surrounding the islands are covered in pristine white sand made from powdered coral and seashells, while their waters are home to a variety of fish and other sea creatures, including whales, dolphins, green and hawksbill turtles and manta ray.

On dry land, the local fauna includes the largest population of Idmi gazelle in the Kingdom, sooty falcon, white-eyed gull, osprey and Red Sea Noddy birds, among others. Additionally, the islands are home to numerous rare and endemic species of plant, including endangered red mangrove trees.

Farasan Islands are home to wildlife, such as the Idmi gazelle, numerous birds as well as rare and endemic plant species. (National Center for Wildlife photo)

In 1996, the “Juzur” Farasan, as the islands are also known, were declared a protected area by royal decree, thereby recognizing them as one of the Kingdom’s most treasured natural assets.

The Farasan Islands Protected Area includes more than 84 islands, the largest of which is the Farasan Al-Kabir, or Greater Farasan, followed by the Saqid, or Lesser, Farasan and Qummah — all of which are inhabited by people working in fishing and producing millet and maize.

Officials managing the protected area are building on extensive research and fieldwork to preserve both marine and terrestrial ecosystems, as well as animal and plant species, many of which originate from the Tihamah coastal plain of western Saudi Arabia.

A visitor examines seashells at one of the popular beaches in the Farasan Islands. (Saudi Tourism Authority photo)

Included in the protected area program are educational talks and campaigns to help raise awareness about the importance of preserving the area for fishermen, farmers, schools, local leaders and young people.

The area is part of the Regional Organization for the Conservation of the Environment of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. Additionally, the Saudi Wildlife Authority has developed a plan to oversee and maintain the rich biodiversity of the islands. 

In March 2021, the International Advisory Committee for Biosphere Reserves welcomed the first nomination dossier from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia of “Juzur” Farasan as a biosphere reserve.

Aerial view of a boat circling round the waterways of the Farasan Islands off the coast of Jazan. (SPA file photo)

The nomination was approved by the International Coordinating Council of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme on Sept. 15, 2021, during the commission’s session held in Abuja, Nigeria, marking the first time the MAB-ICC had met in Africa.

Underway are several projects to develop the area for ecotourism, including its various natural and cultural heritage sites and numerous archaeological sites that reflect the history of the area. Several civilizations, including the Romans, visited and occupied the islands.

In August 2022, Saudi Arabia’s Heritage Commission announced the discovery of several structures and artifacts from the 2nd and 3rd centuries following extensive excavation work by a joint Saudi-French team.

Several civilizations, including the Romans, visited and occupied the islands. (Shutterstock)

The pieces included Roman folded armor made of copper ingots and armor known as “lorica squamata,” which was frequently used during the Roman era between the 1st and 3rd centuries.

Archaeologists also found an inscription of garnet for “Genos,” a renowned Roman figure in the Eastern Roman Empire, and the head of a small stone statue.

The Saudi-French team has made several exploratory trips since 2005, and has uncovered architectural and archaeological remnants dating as far back as 1400 BC. Such discoveries underline the importance of the ancient ports that once controlled the marine trade routes of the Red Sea.

Such archaeological discoveries also demonstrate the importance of the Farasan Islands and the mainland in ancient times as a crucial meeting point for trade and cross-cultural exchange.

Now, with the Kingdom’s borders open to global investment and visitors and with numerous giga-projects underway, the Farasan Islands have the potential to become one of Saudi Arabia’s top tourism destinations.

Riyadh-based British expatriate Ciara Philips vacationed in Farasan last year. Supplied

While upscale hotels and resorts are still under construction as part of the Red Sea Project, a trip to the Farasan Islands can be an enriching journey of leisure and discovery in a still largely untouched region of Saudi Arabia.

“Saudi is something of the last frontier in terms of tourism and I certainly felt that last year when I went and wanted to take a weekend trip outside of Riyadh,” Ciara Philips, a British expatriate, told Arab News.

“I chose the Farasan Islands and booked FlyNas flights to Jazan, leaving after work on Thursday and arriving back early evening on Saturday. The flight schedules worked perfectly.”

Philips, who moved to Riyadh at the end of 2020 to accept a job in cultural strategy, said that she found it difficult to find “concrete information about the islands, other than what is on VisitSaudi and blog posts from other intrepid expats.”

Several projects are underway to develop Farasan Islands for ecotourism. (National Center for Wildlife)

At the last minute, just a day before setting off, she found a weekend trip with Masarat Tours. In Jazan she met a local guide and spent two days with him and two girlfriends who had traveled from Jeddah.

Together they went to a small fishing harbor where they explored the mangroves by boat and various tiny islands inhabited by birds, crabs and other native species.

“It was magical,” said Philips. “Totally Robinson Crusoe. I had bought a snorkel and mask the day before and explored the warm, still waters, finding all sorts of brightly colored shoals of fish. There were pelicans swimming in the sea and the shells on the beach were enormous.”

Several projects are underway to develop Farasan Islands for ecotourism. (National Center for Wildlife)

Over the course of her two-day trip, Philips says that she saw barely anyone besides her friends and their guide — an ideal break from the busy, sweltering and dusty streets of Riyadh during July.

“I learned a few more words of Arabic, but better still was the truly contemplative time exploring the seas and the many uninhabited islands of Farasan,” she said.

As Saudi Arabia continues to diversify its economy, these pristine islands, so sparsely populated and so rich in nature and wildlife, constitute an ideal resource in the Kingdom’s quest to become a global hub for sustainable tourism.


US-Saudi ties strong despite differing views on OPEC+ oil production cut: Blinken

Updated 10 June 2023

US-Saudi ties strong despite differing views on OPEC+ oil production cut: Blinken

  • Antony Blinken said that decades-long ties remain strong despite differing views on the decision by OPEC+ nations to cut oil-production targets
  • He added that ‘there are important opportunities for our two countries to work together to advance some very positive issues, very positive trends’

RIYADH: The decades-long strategic relationship between Saudi Arabia and the US remains strong and is going through a period of “increasing convergence,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday.

During an official trip to Saudi Arabia, Washington’s top diplomat told Hiba Nasr of Asharq News that the Kingdom and the US are successfully working together despite “a difference in views” over the decision by OPEC+ nations last October to cut oil-production targets.

“We’ve had a partnership together for decades that was grounded in security, in cooperation, energy and, in recent years, counterterrorism, and that foundation remains,” Blinken said.

“But what we’re also seeing — and what this visit reconfirms — is that there are important opportunities for our two countries to work together to advance some very positive issues, very positive trends.”

Blinken, who attended a Global Coalition Against Daesh conference in Riyadh this week, said the deescalation of tensions in the Middle East was a priority for both countries, but that the Kingdom and the US have also been working together well on a “positive trajectory based on interests we share” in other arenas.

This includes “collaboration between our countries in addressing some of the challenges that not only are of concern to our people but to people around the world, from health security to climate security to energy security to food security and, of course, the transition to clean energy, working on emerging technologies,” he added.

Blinken said the US is not abandoning the Middle East in the face of growing Chinese and Russian influence and is “here to stay” in the region.

“Day-in, day-out, we’re working with partners throughout the region and what I hear in almost all of my engagements is the US remains the No. 1 partner of choice; that is clear in what I hear, what we hear from all of our partners,” he added.

“And we’re engaging with them, working with them both to deal with many of the challenges (that you just talked about), which are real and urgent and acute, but also — and this is so important — on an affirmative agenda for the future; not just dealing with the crisis but actually trying, together, to build a better future for our people in the US and for people throughout this region.

“So, yes, we’re dealing with crises, we’re dealing with security challenges, but we’re also dealing with an affirmative agenda. And across the board on all of that, as I said, what I hear again and again is the US is our preferred partner. We are a partner and we’re here.”

On the issue of the recent Beijing-brokered agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Blinken said any and all contributions by countries, including China, to the advancement of peace in the region is a positive step.

“We applaud what happened,” he said. “Anything that deescalates tensions, that takes at least one problem off of the agenda, and in this case also may have the additional benefit of helping to advance a peace in Yemen, we think is a good thing.

“Of course, the Saudis and Iranians have been talking together for at least a couple of years to get to this place. We’ll see what happens now.

“If countries — including China — can play a positive role, wherever it is, in helping to advance peace, to reduce tensions then, again, I think that’s positive, that’s what we should all be trying to do.”

Blinken also praised Saudi Arabia for its role in joint humanitarian efforts and its attempts to help end the conflict in Sudan.

“We had, by the way in very close partnership with Saudi Arabia, some success in getting very limited ceasefires that were highly imperfect but did allow more humanitarian assistance to get in (to Sudan) and reach about 2 million people that otherwise would not have had this assistance provided to them,” he said.

With both sides in the conflict increasingly ignoring truce commitments, Blinked added that if neither side was serious about the ceasefire process, Washington has “tools at its disposal” to help bring about a lasting peace.

Energy supply is not a political issue, Hungarian FM Peter Szijjarto tells Arab News

Updated 09 June 2023

Energy supply is not a political issue, Hungarian FM Peter Szijjarto tells Arab News

  • Budapest’s top diplomat claims “failed” EU sanctions are “much more harmful to European countries than to Russia itself”
  • Minister hails “respect-based” Saudi-Hungary ties during visit to Riyadh for anti-terrorism conference 

RIYADH: Peter Szijjarto, Hungary’s minister of foreign affairs and trade, has criticized EU sanctions targeting Russia over the war in Ukraine, claiming they have damaged European economies while failing to end the conflict.

Speaking to Arab News on the sidelines of the Ministerial Meeting of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, held in Riyadh on Thursday, Szijjarto hit out at European critics who accuse Budapest of failing to boycott Russian energy.

“Energy supply is a physical issue, not a political issue,” he said. “It’s impossible to heat or cool down the houses and the flats with ideologies or with political statements.”

Citing Hungary’s geographical proximity to Russia and the current pipelines available to European nations, Szijjarto said his country had little option but to continue sourcing oil and gas from Russia to meet its demands.

“If you look at the infrastructure map of central Europe, when it comes to energy, you will see that because of the physical nature of the infrastructure, Russia is inevitable for us and is extremely important for us, from the perspective of a safe supply of energy,” he said.

“If we cut the Russian resources, then the remaining infrastructure does not have enough capacity to supply us with enough gas and oil.

“So my question, always, to these European colleagues, who are super hypocritical and are (leveling) allegations (against) us, (is) whether they would replace the Russian deliveries with gas and oil, even putting into consideration the lack of infrastructure. If there is no pipeline, how on earth will they deliver gas or oil to us?”

The war in Ukraine has put immense strain on Eastern European nations, which opened their doors to millions of Ukrainian refugees after Russia launched its full-scale invasion in February last year.

Another impact of the conflict and the Western sanctions that followed was a sharp rise in the price of energy, food and other commodities — inflationary pressures that have been keenly felt across Europe.

“These sanctions make no sense,” Szijjarto said. “They are much more harmful to the European countries than to Russia itself. They have been introduced with the goal of pushing Russia to its knees, economically speaking, thus making Russia unable to continue the war.

“That was a year ago. What happens now? We are now discussing the 11th package of sanctions, while the first 10 packages have failed, totally failed.

“Russia, definitely they are facing some economic challenges, but I’m pretty sure that we Europeans are faced with more serious economic challenges than them. And, on the other hand, we are not closer to peace either.”

Szijjarto welcomed Saudi offers of mediation between Russia and Ukraine, saying the conflict could be ended only through diplomatic means. He also lauded the Kingdom’s efforts to stabilize world energy prices.

“For us, the most important goal regarding the war in Ukraine is to create peace as soon as possible. It’s very obvious that this war does not have a solution on the battleground. This war only has a solution at the negotiating table,” he said.

“Diplomacy must take over, because if diplomacy cannot take over, then the war will last longer. The longer the war lasts, the more people will die. And we don’t want that. We want peace as soon as possible.

“Therefore, we absolutely appreciate the mediating efforts and the stabilizing role played, for example, by Saudi Arabia, because stability, forecastability in this regard, are reliable partners … (and) have a highly increased significance.

“We hope that mediation efforts put forward, for example, by the Saudi authorities, will be successful in the future and we ask you to continue to do so. The more mediation efforts there are, the more peace plans are being brought forward, the bigger the chance that peace will come.”

The ministerial meeting, for which Szijjarto was in Riyadh, attracted the top diplomats of several countries, including US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Daesh, as ISIS is also known, seized vast swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria in 2014 before the coalition was able to finally dislodge its fighters from their final holdouts in 2019.

The group’s members and sympathizers were also responsible for several mass casualty attacks in Europe and elsewhere, prompting governments to overhaul their security policies and revamp screening protocols for migrants and refugees.

But analysts are now concerned the world’s focus on the war in Ukraine risks diverting attention away from the ongoing threat posed by Islamic extremism.

“Hungary is pretty concerned about the growing threat of terror, because this threat usually causes additional flows, (such as) massive migration to Europe. Such flows constitute a pretty serious risk (to) security as well,” Szijjarto said.

“Since we in Europe are now faced with the challenge posed by the war in Ukraine, another type of security challenge would be unmanageable for us. Therefore, it is of crucial importance for us Europeans that the threat of terror is decreased. And without defeating ISIS, without pushing back ISIS, it’s impossible to (reduce) the threat of terror.”

Szijjarto said he appreciated the Kingdom’s efforts to keep the issue of terrorism at the top of the international agenda and cautioned against complacency.

“We appreciate the role of Saudi Arabia a lot when it comes to the fight against terror, when it comes to the fight against ISIS. And we are really thankful to the Saudi Arabian authorities for organizing the meeting of the anti-ISIS coalition, because we do believe that the efforts of this coalition should now be reinforced on many occasions.

“Whenever ISIS is getting stronger, the flows of migration are getting stronger. And whenever there are more people involved in the flows of migration, the more terrorists are having the chance to come to Europe. An increased threat of terror here usually ends up in an increased threat of terror in Europe.”

In January 2020, Szijjarto said Hungarian companies were well positioned to play a role in Vision 2030 — the Kingdom’s economic diversification and social reform agenda — particularly in the areas of agriculture, housing and electronics.

Asked about progress in the Saudi-Hungary relationship since then, the minister said the decks had been cleared for an expansion of trade and investment.

“The technologies that Hungarian companies and universities and research institutions have basically worked on are very useful from the perspective of the development of the Saudi economy as well,” he said.

“You have made huge efforts here in Saudi Arabia to upgrade infrastructure, but for future development, Hungarian companies are at our disposal as well.

“Saudi Arabia and Hungary enjoy trust-based, respect-based political cooperation without any kind of open issues. Therefore, it’s up to the companies to find a way to each other.

“So, what the two governments can do is pave the way to ensure the necessary legal and financial circumstances and insurances, which we have done. So it’s now up to the companies to take the most possible profit out of this good political cooperation.”

Also high on the international agenda is the crisis in Sudan, where the military and a paramilitary group have been locked in combat since April 15. The conflict has displaced more than 1 million people and triggered a humanitarian emergency.

Saudi Arabia and its US allies have taken the lead in mediation efforts, hosting representatives from both parties for ceasefire talks in the Kingdom’s coastal city of Jeddah.

Szijjarto said a solution had to be found quickly to avoid a fresh wave of migration to Europe, adding that the EU had a role to play in supporting Sudan’s neighbors, which are now home to hundreds of thousands of displaced people.

“We understand that the countries in the neighborhood are now faced with a tremendous challenge posed by the huge number of refugees,” Szijjarto said.

“Therefore, we urge the EU to transfer an increased volume of financial support and assistance to these countries in the neighborhood in order to be able to take care of the refugees, not to lose stability, not to bear too much burden, financially speaking, and not to come to a situation in which the neighboring countries become kind of transit countries. And then the flow of refugees will transform into a flow of migrants. And (after that), it would be a totally irregular set of developments.”

Under the circumstances, he said, “we are interested in stability as soon as possible, we are interested in the people who had to flee to be able to return as soon as possible and for the whole neighborhood to become more stable.”


‘Daesh remains dangerous terror actor,’ says French FM Catherine Colonna

Updated 09 June 2023

‘Daesh remains dangerous terror actor,’ says French FM Catherine Colonna

  • Minister for Europe and foreign affairs relays concerns over threat at Riyadh meeting
  • Paris says Daesh is still a threat in many parts of Africa, Afghanistan, and even Syria

PARIS: On the eve of the Ministerial Meeting of the Global Coalition Against Daesh in Riyadh, Catherine Colonna, the French minister for Europe and foreign affairs, said the coalition’s work remains vitally important because the terrorist group “has not abandoned its agenda.”

All members of the coalition participated in the meeting, organized by Saudi Arabia and the US. Established in 2014, when Daesh was at the peak of its power, the coalition has since achieved the bulk of its objectives, having liberated all territories held by the group, first in Iraq in 2017 and then in Syria in 2019.

However, French authorities believe the coalition remains relevant, as the threat has merely changed in nature. The French government has said Daesh “remains a dangerous terrorist actor” in many parts of the world, including Africa, Afghanistan, and even Syria.

Burnt cars are seen in Auno village in Nigeria's restive Borno state after an attack by suspected Daesh terrorists on February 9, 2020. The gunmen also killed, burned and looted before kidnapping women and children. (AFP)

The group “is not currently in a strong enough position to carry out new attacks on our territory” as it did in 2015 and 2016, French authorities said in a recent statement, referring to a spate of mass casualty events.

However, it seeks to take advantage of continued instability, particularly in Syria, but also in certain African countries and Afghanistan, “to rebuild its bases and regain the ability to recruit and project new threats.”

“We are dealing with an group that has not at all abandoned its global agenda,” it added.

The Riyadh meeting was viewed as an opportunity to conduct a security evaluation that will allow coalition military personnel to present their perception of the threat.

French Foreign and European Affairs Minister Catherine Colonna at the meeting in Riyadh on Thursday. (AFP)

Furthermore, the French government believes the focus on the war in Ukraine “should not overshadow the fight against terrorism,” otherwise “we would lose the gains we have made over the past ten years, investing human lives and billions of euros and dollars, which would be totally irresponsible.”

Colonna used the Riyadh meeting to press home her government’s stance, notably emphasizing how the Levant region, the birthplace of Daesh, must remain a priority for the coalition.

She also used the occasion to convey how the threat has evolved and how the response must evolve accordingly.

In this photo taken on February 9, 2019, French soldiers stand prepare to join the "final battle" against Daesh forces from the last scrap of territory it holds in eastern Syria. (AFP)

“It is evident that we are dealing with a group that has voluntarily returned to clandestinity rather than being forced into it” and that it maintains its intention “to reposition itself in a strategy of harassment,” the French government said.

“The stakes are different today, and they consist of preventing the territories that were under the influence of Daesh from falling back under its sway, which requires us to make a massive stabilization effort.”

In this regard, Colonna was keen to emphasize the magnitude and consistency of the French commitment to stabilization, as, since 2017, the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs alone has mobilized 302 million euros, including 170 million euros for Iraq.

This picture taken on February 8, 2023, shows the reconstruction of the Nabi Yunes mosque in Mosul, Iraq, which was destroyed by Daesh terrorists in 2014. (AFP)

egarding logistics, the meeting focused on three geographical themes — the Levant, specifically the Syrian-Iraqi zone that lies at the heart of the international coalition’s traditional activities, Africa, with a significant focus on the Sahel-Saharan region, and finally, Central Asia, where Afghanistan is a key concern.

Ministerial interventions and several stabilization announcements also took place, along with a presentation of the coalition’s diverse activities through its various working groups on combating Daesh’s narrative.

The meeting provided an opportunity for Colonna to hold bilateral talks with her counterparts, including Saudi Arabia’s Prince Faisal bin Farhan, Morocco’s Nasser Bourita, Lebanon’s Abdallah Bou Habib, and several African ministers.

After Riyadh, Catherine Colonna traveled to Doha, marking a milestone in the framework of the strategic dialogue between France and Qatar, which covers all areas of the bilateral relationship.

In this regard, Paris emphasizes that “the relationship with Qatar has been extremely strong and on the rise for several years.”



Saudi foreign minister meets French, Lebanese counterparts

Updated 09 June 2023

Saudi foreign minister meets French, Lebanese counterparts

RIYADH: Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan met his French counterpart Catherine Colonna on Thursday, on the sidelines of the ministerial meeting of the Global Coalition against Daesh in Riyadh.

They reviewed the strong relations between the Kingdom and France, and ways to enhance ties in various fields, the Kingdom’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

The two ministers also discussed the latest developments in the international arena and addressed prominent topics at the ministerial meeting.

Prince Faisal also met today with Lebanese Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants Abdallah Bouhabib, on the sidelines of the meeting.

Prince Faisal expressed the Saudi leadership’s gratitude and appreciation for all the efforts made by the security services in Lebanon for their quick response in freeing the Saudi citizen who had been kidnapped.

During the meeting, the two sides reviewed bilateral relations and ways to develop them in several fields and discussed regional and international developments key issues raised in the ministerial meeting.