Education ministry dispatches 136 teachers to Saudi schools, academies abroad

Education ministry dispatches 136 teachers to Saudi schools, academies abroad
Education ministry dispatches 136 teachers to Saudi schools, academies abroad

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - RIYADH: Appointed French ambassador to Saudi Arabia in 2020, Ludovic Pouille is at the end of his diplomatic mission in the country.

Arab News en Francais caught up with the ambassador for an interview, in which he discussed the main aspects of bilateral relations between the Kingdom and France.

Pouille told Arab News: “During my four years in office, I have had the opportunity to witness Saudi Arabia’s commitment to a vast and ambitious program of reform and modernization in all sectors — economic, social and cultural — spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.”

He added that over the past two years, bilateral relations were marked by various ministerial and parliamentary visits, illustrating the importance attached to the Kingdom by French authorities, including the visit by President Emmanuel Macron in December 2021. The crown prince’s visit to France in in July 2022 and June 2023 also marked “a very important moment in the history of our relations,” Pouille said.

Commercial relations between France and Saudi Arabia are flourishing in all sectors, particularly in the key sectors of Saudi Arabia’s economic transformation plan.

The French ambassador said: “In 2023, trade in goods between France and Saudi Arabia reached €9.5 billion ($10.2 billion), an increase of 18 percent compared to 2016, when Vision 2030 was launched. French exports to Saudi Arabia have continued to rise since 2019, driven by various industries, and amounted to €4.2 billion in 2023.

“The dynamism of our aeronautics sector, and the recognition of French expertise, have enabled our exports in the sector to be doubled in 2023 compared with 2021. I am also delighted with the recent contract signed between the Saudia group and Airbus on May 20.”

France is involved in many mega-projects thanks to its companies, which play a major role in achieving the economic objectives of the two countries. “I am convinced that our joint future will be radiant, thanks in particular to the development of artificial intelligence, in which France is a major player, promising a successful digital transition in many sectors,” he added.

Investment is a key area, and the stock of French direct investment in Saudi Arabia is estimated at almost $5 billion in value, mainly concentrated in the energy and industrial sectors.

Major French groups are particularly well positioned in renewable energies, including EDF, Engie, TotalEnergies, and the water sector, including Saur, Suez, Veolia — these areas are the focus of highly ambitious national programs implemented in the form of private investment.

More recently, French companies and investors have shown particular interest in the health, digital and high added-value technology sectors, notably through the French Tech label and its 22,000 startups, Pouille said.

France, he added, has created economic partnerships and cooperation in all areas, including energy, water and the environment, transport and logistics, tourism, leisure and culture, sport, health, agri-food, new technologies, aeronautics and space, as well as financial services and investments.

“France, the world’s leading tourist destination, is proud to offer its expertise to the Kingdom, which has major ambitions in this area,” said Pouille. “Whether it’s building infrastructure, training young people or organizing major sporting or cultural events.

“France excels in all these sectors, which are at the heart of Saudi Vision 2030. The AlUla laboratories, which has been the subject of exceptional cooperation between our two countries since 2018, is exemplary in this respect.”

The ambassador also noted that the results of Saudi-French cultural cooperation are “more than positive; they have been enriched by our respective know-how and our joint initiatives in various fields such as fashion, architecture, art and education.

“The news I’m most delighted about, of course, is the award to Saudi Arabia of the organization of World Expo 2030. This is a resounding success, to which France contributed by lending its support to the bid in the summer of 2022,” he added.

The ambassador said that many events took place during his diplomatic mandate, including the Riyadh Season, the First Riyadh Biennial of Contemporary Art, the Red Sea Film Festival in Jeddah, the DesertX exhibition in AlUla, the Noor Riyadh festival and the MDLBeast Sandstorm Festival.

“Just a few days ago, I had the immense honor of awarding the Medal of Arts and Letters to a number of Saudi personalities who have contributed to the development of culture in Saudi Arabia, including Her Highness Princess Adwa bint Yazid bint Abdullah Al-Saud, Ahmed Mater, Mohannad Shono and Noura Bin Saidan.”

Reflecting on his time in the Kingdom, the ambassador added: “To the Saudis, I want to say thank you! I express my deep gratitude for the warm welcome they have given my family and me during my four years in Riyadh. I will have unforgettable memories of this country and its ambitious and talented men and women.

“To my 7,000 compatriots, I would also like to thank them for helping and guiding me in my mission to serve our country and the bilateral relationship with the Kingdom,” he said. “I would like to tell them to continue their work and to continue sowing the seeds of our cooperation, because in the end, they are our country’s true ambassadors in Saudi Arabia.

“Finally, when I return to France, I will encourage my compatriots not to hesitate for a second to come and visit, work or study in Saudi Arabia.”

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