France and Saudi Arabia: an inexhaustible friendship
On the occasion of the French national holiday, I wish to send my sincere congratulations to the French people. This celebration comes at a time when the relationship between our two partners continues to rest on solid foundations, firmly established by our two leaders.
From the 1920s, what became an unwavering friendship began with the establishment and exchange of diplomatic missions. These exchanges marked a turning point and important steps followed their establishment which paved the way for bringing together our populations. An example of this was when President Charles de Gaulle received the late King Faisal bin Abdul Aziz in 1967, and the exceptional ties that have always linked the leaders of our two countries since.
The Institute of the Arab World in Paris is another example of our strong cultural relations. In fact, the foundation stone of this institute was laid jointly by King Khaled bin Abdul Aziz and former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing in 1980. The institute was created with the vision of serving as a bridge between cultures Arabic and French, and a link between East and West. Several innovative projects and strategic partnerships also followed.
However, it was with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to Paris in 2018 that the bilateral relationship received a massive boost. Supported by King Salman, the crown prince is leading an ambitious and massive journey of reform and development in our country. Indeed, his visit to Paris in 2018 favored what can be described as a new chapter in Franco-Saudi relations.
Since this visit, relations have reached new heights in the fields of culture, heritage and education. This was reflected in joint archaeological excavations and cooperation in cultural, environmental, tourist, commercial and heritage development at one of the most important heritage sites in the world, AlUla. Together, we are working to present AlUla as a unique model on the map of world tourism.
In addition, many Saudi students are currently enrolled in the most prestigious schools in France. Likewise, my country has opened its doors to tourists by granting visas to those who wish to visit our Kingdom and discover its archaeological treasures and cultural diversity.
Another indicator of the deepening of cultural exchanges at the public level is the growing number of Saudis who study French and French citizens who learn Arabic. What will further strengthen this is the recent creation of a Saudi government agency that promotes and encourages translation – a step that will surely build further understanding.
As such, the opportunities ahead are enormous given the massive developments in the field of communication, and despite the current and serious challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.
With determined leadership, we will continue to strengthen this partnership. And given that strong cultural alliances have an impact on everyone, it goes without saying that our partnership will benefit not only the Saudi and French people, but also the region and the world. After all, human values are what unite us.
Finally, I would like to congratulate Arab News on the launch of its new French digital edition. I hope that this new edition further extends the communication bridges between the Arab and French cultures and serves as a new and important window of understanding between our peoples.
Once again, I wish France more prosperity, growth and development, and that with each passing year, our friendship strengthens and deepens.
- Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al-Saud is the Minister of Culture of Saudi Arabia.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the authors in this section are theirs and do not necessarily reflect the views of Arab News