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Saudi and France to ‘unleash potential’ after $2.9bn deals

French Saudi investment forum Reuters/Balkis Press/Abaca Press
French President Emmanuel Macron and Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. In 2022, French-Saudi trade volumes increased by more than 80% to $11.5bn
  • Cement, health, culture and aviation among 24 deals signed
  • French-Saudi trade increased 80% to $11.5bn last year
  • French companies’ FDI in Saudi Arabia almost $6bn in 2022

Saudi Arabia and France will work together to “unleash the full potential” of their trade relationship as they look beyond traditional sectors such as energy.

That was the message from Saudi investment minister Khalid Al-Falih at the conclusion of the French-Saudi Investment Forum.

Last year, French-Saudi trade volumes increased by more than 80 percent to $11.5 billion while French foreign direct investment (FDI) in Saudi Arabia reached almost $6 billion. 

The number of French companies operating in Saudi Arabia has increased by 43 percent since 2020 with major French investors operating in the kingdom including Air Liquide, Airbus, Alstom, Crédit Agricole, L’Oréal, Sanofi Aventis, Thales, Total and Veolia.

In October, Alstom, a leader in green and smart mobility, announced the opening of a new regional office in Riyadh after signing a deal with Saudi Railway Company to develop a hydrogen-powered train. 

Al-Falih said the potential for greater investment and cooperation between Saudi Arabia and France extends to sectors including healthcare, clean energy, hospitality and culture.

“The kingdom attaches great importance to our relationship with France and the rest of Europe,” Al-Falih said.

“We look forward to working together with our French partners to unleash the full potential of our relationship.”

The French-Saudi Investment Forum, held in Paris this week, saw the signing of 24 memoranda of understanding (MoU) and investment agreements with a combined value of $2.9 billion. 

These included an MoU between Shurfah Holding Company and Hoffman Green Cement Technologies to design and produce decarbonated cement.

A joint venture was also agreed between Saudi Arabia’s SmartHealth and France’s Visiomed to set up 40 examination centres across the kingdom.

Saudi’s Military Industries Company and Industrial Investments Company and France’s Figeac Aero signed a deal to manufacture aircraft parts and components to supply global markets.

A joint venture was also established between Saudi Arabia’s Zamil Group and Knowliom and France’s Chargeurs that will help the kingdom to develop its museums and wider Saudi talent in the culture industry.

An MoU was also signed to bring French restaurant brands including Moto, Manko, Mimosa, Resofair and La Maison Martins to the kingdom, supporting Saudi Arabia’s plan to welcome 100 million visitors annually by 2030.

Earlier on Monday, Flynas, the Saudi low-cost airline, said at the Paris Air Show that it has firmed up an order with Airbus for 30 new A320neo aircraft valued at SR14 billion ($3.7 billion) at the current list price.

The order is part of a SR32 billion order to purchase 120 aircraft from Airbus as Saudi Arabia’s National Civil Aviation Strategy aims to reach 330 million passengers and increase the number of international destinations linked to the kingdom to more than 250 destinations by 2030.