French minister highlights ‘immense potential’ of collaboration between France, Gulf states

PARIS: Bruno Le Maire, the French minister of economy, finance, and industrial and digital sovereignty, highlighted “the closeness of our ambitions and the immense potential of our collaboration between France and the Gulf states,” during his opening speech at the second edition of Vision Golfe in Paris.

Le Maire emphasized three strategic areas to strengthen the collaboration: economic diversification, investment, and curbing global warming.

He added: “The Gulf countries have taken a major turning point to diversify away from oil and gas revenues, and to emerge in the high value-added sectors of the future. France is ready to share its expertise in infrastructure, industry, tourism, healthcare and cutting-edge technologies.

“Together, we can stimulate growth, create jobs and improve the quality of life of our fellow citizens.”

Vision Golfe 2024 is a two-day event held at the Ministry of Economy in Paris. It reflects the continued joint efforts of French and GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) stakeholders to foster economic and commercial partnerships, and boasts more than 1,000 participants.

The event offers a platform to promote cooperation in a range of sectors, including trade, energy and the environment, sports, and culture, while bringing together key economic experts, government ministers, representatives of startups, and senior executives.

The event draws on the long-standing relationship between France and the GCC states, particularly between France and Saudi Arabia, which has been marked by significant political, economic, and cultural developments in recent years.

Jean Yves Le Drian, the chairman of the French Agency for AlUla Development, known as Afalula, said: “In recent years the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has undergone a profound transformation, unprecedented and certainly unparalleled in its speed. Under the leadership of the crown prince, the implementation of Vision 2030 has been accompanied by a threefold political, social and economic revolution.

“We have witnessed a shift in the Kingdom on a social level, due to carrying out multiple internal reforms, particularly benefiting women. At the same time, the crown prince put into practice a new national narrative, that of a Saudi Arabia reconciled with its past, a modern Saudi Arabia that is open to the world … an ambitious approach with Saudi youth, 70 percent of the country, embracing this new identity.”

During the panel discussion “Sharing views on 2030” Suliman Al-Mazroua, CEO of the Kingdom’s National Industrial Development and Logistics Program, highlighted the convergence of national strategies and the potential value of Saudi-French partnerships, and with Gulf states more generally.

Laurent Saint Martin, the CEO of Business France, said it was important to build bridges.

Martin said: “In times of uncertainty, it is more important than ever to build bridges and partnerships. We are here because we are all keen on building upon our synergies across all sectors of activity.

“To our friends and partners from the GCC, I want to say this: The French companies gathered here represent the best we can offer in all sectors.

“To the French CEOs present today, if you want to do business with GCC partners there is no time to waste. Gulf countries are moving forward and upward at breathtaking pace.”

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