Saudi Arabia and France might not see eye to eye on the Niqab, but they surely do on energy matters
French companies AREVA and EDF hosted a number of Saudi business and industry representatives at their Second Suppliers Day event held in Jeddah on Tuesday to take part in the framework of the sustainable energy program suggested by King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KA-CARE) focused on nuclear and renewable energy sources.
Some 200 participants from local companies attended, including Dr. Mohieden Garwan, KA-CARE, French Ambassador to KSA Bertrand Besancenot, representatives of Saudi industry, along with Tarek Choho, AREVA Chief Commercial Officer and Mrs. Valerie Levkov, EDF VP New Nuclear Energy. The suppliers’ day initiative aimed at providing local industry with a platform for exposure, knowledge sharing, and networking.
Speaking to the Saudi Gazette, the French Ambassador to the Kingdom said “the aim of this meeting is very clear, France has been the first country to sign government to government agreement on nuclear and energy because we do think that taking it into account the huge program the Saudi government wants to implement in the nuclear field and France has a lot to bring in terms of the best nuclear technology in the world.”
Besancenot added that Saudi Arabia is a strategic partner of France in the region and the bilateral relationship is of paramount importance in the economic field as “we are seeing that bilateral trade has doubled over the last five years.”
He stressed that France is ready to be Saudi Arabia's strategic partner in the field of nuclear and renewable energy.
He also highlighted the competencies of France’s nuclear energy industry and its ability to support the Kingdom goal.
According to organizers, the two French companies have launched two initiatives as part of K.A CARE proposal Educational Outreach Program aimed at human capacity building in the Kingdom through partnership with Saudi universities, technical and vocational centers.
They have launched the first sustainable energy study tour in France in June 2013, which offered a unique opportunity for Saudi students to learn more about activities in nuclear and renewable energy by engaging with leading French industrial, educational and research entities. Dr. Noura Mansouri, manager of strategy and marketing at AREVA Saudi Arabia, said “human capacity is an important pillar of the sustainability of the future energy programs. The study tour represents a building block of a long-term partnership between French and Saudi educational systems in the area of nuclear and renewable energies. Through this program, we have also offered more than 50 on-the-job training opportunities to young Saudi graduates in France, UK and Germany”
The second initiative is the Industrial Outreach Program aimed at contributing to industrial and technical development of the economic base of the Kingdom as well as focusing on ‘ localization’ by utilizing the existing network of local companies to develop nuclear and renewable technologies.
Localizing skills lies at the heart of the international development strategy implemented by AREVA and EDF, who intend to rely on local partners for the shared industrial projects they export.
AREVA and EDF plan to contribute their expertise to the Saudi energy program, from choosing the appropriate power generation solutions to managing the operating cycle.