Saudi Arabia, UAE ‘the locomotives of the region’ says French trade commissioner

DUBAI: After the success of its first edition, Vision Golfe returns for a second edition June 4-5 at the Ministry of Economy, Finance, Industry and Industrial and Digital Sovereignty in Paris.

The benchmark event between France and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries aims to promote trade and economic relations, building on a long-standing relationship between France and the GCC states, particularly between France and Saudi Arabia.

“Between France and the GCC countries … we have a long story of friendship. We build bridges together based on mutual comprehension, respect, mutual interest, ambition, and our political bilateral relation is absolutely at the top,” said Axel Baroux, trade and invest commissioner of Business France Middle East, in an interview with Arab News in French.

“We have a great and solid commercial and investment relationship, but I think that we can do even more,” he added.

Vision Golfe is a platform to promote business cooperation in markets with high growth potential, and an opportunity to meet key economic players: ministers, start-ups, and senior executives, among others.

“Vision Golfe is a tool, the starting point for negotiations and discussions. Discussions continue throughout the year … our trade and investment grew last year by almost 8 percent,” declared Baroux.

“If I take the figures of the GCC investment in France, we are reaching €14 billion ($15.178 billion) which is exactly €13.7 billion,” he added, while pointing out that the figure is underestimated for not considering indirect investments.

Despite the challenges facing the global economy, Gulf countries continue to offer an environment conducive to investment and talent attraction, leveraging national policies focused on economic diversification, sustainable development, and energy transition.This creates a favourable atmosphere for the establishment of companies in various sectors such as energy and new technologies, as well as sectors such as healthcare, education, retail, and tourism.

As the two largest markets in a region marked by considerable growth in trade, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are today “the locomotives of the region,” Baroux says.

This explains the rise in French companies setting up operations and participating in major projects and trade in the Gulf.

Baroux highlighted his participation in a delegation of French companies in Saudi Arabia, with over 120 companies taking part in the event organized by Business France and the MEDEF, in the presence of the director general of Business France, Laurent Saint Martin, French foreign trade advisors, and Bruno Bonnell, the secretary-general for Investment FRANCE 2030.

“We were admirably received. Agreements were signed with STC and Business France. We also visited the PIF, and had discussions with MISA,” he added.

The UAE also offers opportunities for French companies across sectors, with “more than 600 French companies on ground … Translating into direct employment, projects and a solid economic relationship,” according to Baroux.

“We have very strong, very solid bilateral economic relations between France and the GCC and it is a reason why we expect Vision Golfe to be the annual rendez-vous, the annual meeting, where all the companies from the GCC and from France can meet together in Paris,” he added.        


Vision Golfe is a platform for exchanges, networking, and the signing of agreements.

It aims to present success stories of major partnerships that contribute to the strategies of Gulf countries.

The program includes an opening speach by Business France CEO Laurent Saint Martin, in the presence of ministers from France and the GCC, and a panel addressing “The Gulf at the crossroads of Asia and Europe” to kick off two days of panels and meetings.

Thematic and sector-specific discussions and round tables are on the agenda, with topics including but not limited to:


• Converging national strategies

• Building sustainable partnerships

• How to invest and set up a business in the Gulf

• Energy for the future: sustainable energy and resource management after COP28

• Cooperation and investment opportunities in various sectors

• France as Europe’s most attractive destination for foreign direct investment

Economic diversification, innovation, artificial intelligence, infrastructure, and transport development are among the themes addressed during the second edition.

The French touch and know-how will also be in the spotlight, in the presence of a number of guests and speakers, such as Jean Yves LeDrian, chair of the French Agency for the Development of AlUla, the CEO of NIDLP Suliman Almazroua, the secretary-general of the UAE International Investors Council, Jamal Saif Al-Jarwan, with the participation of the Abu Dhabi Investment Office, Mohamed Bin Zayed University, and Kuwaiti and Qatari groups to state a few.

“Vision Golfe 2023 was a real success, and of course, I expect more for Vision Golfe 2024. More B2B meetings, more partnerships, even more interaction between French companies and GCC companies. We will have this year at Vision Golfe 2024 some key agreements that will be signed, during the session,” said Baroux.



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