Saudi Arabia’s domestic tourism remains strong despite return of international travel

̵6;Vision Golf’ to become reference conference between France and GCC says French trade commissioner

Dubai: The past few years have seen significant political, economic and cultural developments in relations between France and the Gulf countries.

In an interview with Arab News en Francais, Axel Baroux, Trade and Investment Commissioner for Business France Middle East, introduces the upcoming program “Vision Golf 2023”.

Anticipated Conference of the Year: “Vision Golf”

“In the Age of Vision, I am pleased to announce that we are holding the first edition of ‘Vision Golf’ on 13 and 14 June,” announced Axel Baroux.

The two-day event, held in Paris, aims to become the economic conference of reference for France and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries. “Vision Golf” will take place at the Ministry of Economy, Finance, Industry and Industrial and Digital Sovereignty under the patronage of President Emmanuel Macron.

“Vision Golf” is a new platform to promote business cooperation in high growth potential markets, and an opportunity to meet key economic players – ministers, SME managers, start-ups and senior officials.

Despite the challenges facing the global economy, the GCC countries’ economic diversification strategy, geared towards sustainable development and energy transition, is conducive to attracting talent and investment in diverse sectors such as energy, health care, technology, agri-food and tourism Provides environment. ,

“France is fully committed to participating and contributing to the Gulf countries’ vision with its expertise in key sectors and its strong decarbonization strategy,” Baroux said.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are the largest markets in the region marked by considerable growth in trade. Baroux highlighted that French exports to the GCC were worth €15 billion ($16.5 billion) in 2022.

Best Practices and Success Stories

“Vision Golf” will be an opportunity to present “Success Stories” and contributions of key partnerships to the Gulf countries’ strategies.

On the agenda is an opening speech by Laurent St. Martin, Director-General of Business France, in the presence of French and regional ministers, and “Doing Business” in the Gulf countries session, moderated by GCC Secretary-General Jassim Al-Jassi. Budaivi.

Thematic discussions and round tables are planned, covering a list of topics including but not limited to:

– Best practices for building sustainable partnerships;
– Cooperation and investment opportunities in various sectors;
France as the most attractive destination in Europe for foreign direct investment.

Trade relations between France and the GCC countries

“The commercial partnership between GCC countries and France is an important element and a priority for the French government,” said Baroux.

To this end, Business France Middle East organizes more than 70 business meetings, acceleration programs and France Pavilions per year to connect French companies and local institutions and facilitate investment opportunities.

“A good example of a partnership that will take effect in the coming weeks is E-Fusion, a cooperation agreement specializing in the nuclear sector organized jointly with the Emirati operator, GIFEN, CSFN (Strategic Committee for the Nuclear Sector) and Business France .. an incubation program leading to the development of the French economic presence in the UAE,” Baroux declared.

French information: strong potential in the Gulf region

The French presence is well established in the region. In the energy sector, Veolia and Engie invest in the energy transition of the Gulf countries.

France is also increasing its investments in renewable and nuclear energy, in line with the France 2030 plan, and “its stated ambition to become the first major carbon-free economy in Europe by achieving carbon neutrality by 2050,” explains Baroux.

In the healthcare sector, French pharmaceuticals such as Ipsen, Air Liquide and Sanofi have a presence in the Kingdom and the UAE.

In the food industry, the UAE is becoming an attractive destination for French companies that have established a strong presence in the country, with over 400 restaurants selling French products (Philibon, Saint Michel, Isigny Ste Mere, etc.).

Baroux emphasizes the rise of French-style concepts in Saudi Arabia, where French connoisseurs have managed to establish themselves as a reference in quality and excellence-focused catering.

In the logistics and transport sector, France-GCC cooperation aims to improve infrastructure. The project between Mecca and Medina, one of the largest railway projects in the world, was undertaken by a French consortium (SNCF, RATP and Alstom).

Investment from the Middle East to France

France has always been a favorite destination for Gulf investors, including sovereign wealth funds, historically active in real estate, hotels, infrastructure and acquiring minority stakes in French conglomerates.

Investments from Gulf countries are directed towards economic diversification and the opportunities presented by new technologies.

France has been able to attract this new type of investment from both institutional investors and private groups from the Gulf region.

Through its US subsidiary GlobalFoundries, Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund Mubadala will begin construction of a semiconductor plant in 2022. 5.7 billion euro investment in partnership with STMicroelectronics Group.

Private Saudi conglomerate Bin Dawood, through its French subsidiary (Future Retail for Information Technology Company), has acquired a majority stake in French digital marketing company Yocon to develop its e-commerce strategy.

“FDI from the Near and Middle East region to France is estimated at €13.7 billion, but these figures are often underestimated considering the financial investments made indirectly,” Baroux confirmed.

France and Saudi Arabia: A historic partnership

“France is a historical partner of Saudi Arabia. We are keen to further develop France’s position and its contribution to the realization of megaprojects under Vision 2030,” said Baroux.

Business France’s team in Saudi Arabia supports French companies in their development projects in the Kingdom. The second edition of French Fab Booster is set to serve as a Franco-Saudi accelerator program focused on innovative companies in the areas of Industry 4.0.

“Vision Golf” is anchored in this dynamic of accelerating commercial partnerships between France and one of the key players in the region, namely Saudi Arabia, in order to foster new opportunities and potential synergies in various sectors.