Macron to meet Saudi Crown Prince in Paris as kingdom seeks to diversify its economy

Prince Mohammed’s visit to France is his second to a European country since the start of the Covid pandemic

Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will meet French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Thursday. Reuters
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French President Emmanuel Macron is hosting Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for talks in Paris on Thursday.

The topics set to dominate the meeting include energy supply, as concern grows over possible power cuts due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as well as taking steps to rein in Iran's nuclear programme.

Discussions are set to get under way later in the day and will include a working dinner at the Elysee Palace.

The French president travelled to the kingdom in December 2021 for talks with Prince Mohammed.

Mr Macron will be meeting the Saudi Crown Prince fresh from talks with two close allies of the kingdom, President Sheikh Mohamed and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi.

On Wednesday, Prince Mohammed visited Greece as part of his first European tour since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He held talks with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on strengthening bilateral ties in all fields.

“The two sides welcomed the signing of a number of agreements and MoUs between the private sectors, amounting to about 14 billion riyals ($3.7bn) in the fields of energy, renewable energy, infrastructure, tourism, maritime transport and logistics, communications and information technology, health care and food,” said a joint statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis speaks to Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during a meeting in Athens. Prince Mohammed has now travelled to France. AP

Last month, Saudi Arabia and the US signed 13 investment agreements on the sidelines of US President Joe Biden’s visit to the kingdom, as the Arab world's biggest economy seeks to attract more foreign direct investment to diversify its economy.

The agreements cover sectors including energy, aerospace, defence, textiles, manufacturing, education and tourism.

In October last year, Prince Mohammed launched the National Investment Strategy, which seeks to net 388bn riyals ($103.47bn) in foreign direct investments annually.

The kingdom also expects to increase its domestic investment to about 1.7 trillion riyals by 2030 under the new strategy.

Saudi Arabia, Opec’s top oil exporter, is focused on diversifying the economy under its Vision 2030 programme, which aims to cut its dependence on hydrocarbons and develop local industries and manufacturing capabilities.

Updated: July 28, 2022, 7:55 AM
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