GROWING RELATIONS: Crown Prince Salman meets with Princess Astrid of Belgium on Monday. (SPA)
RIYADH: ABDUL HANNAN TAGO
Published — Tuesday 18 March 2014
Princess Astrid of Belgium has lauded the efforts of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah in promoting dialogue between religions and civilizations.
“We hold the initiatives taken by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah to promote dialogue between religions and civilizations in high esteem,” she said during a special reception hosted by the Belgian Embassy on Sunday night.
The princess also noted the growing relations between her country and Saudi Arabia in the fields of small and medium-sized enterprises, technology transfer, trade and investment.
“We equally value the king’s efforts in developing the country’s human potential in different fields, including social advancement and employment for women,” she said.
Saudi investment in Belgium is on the rise, she said.
“The economic mission, which was headed by my father, King Albert, and my brother, King Philip, had been welcomed here with great warmth and generosity in the past,” said the princess. “Many Belgian companies are already present in the Saudi market and are happy to be operating here.”
“I personally have retained fond memories of your rich culture and history,” she said. “To our business community, Saudi Arabia has become a trusted partner in many fields and projects.”
“It is also a privilege to be able to enjoy this dinner at the elegant residence of our ambassador to the Kingdom, which blends Belgian architecture with local architecture and traditions. This marks the perfect starting point of our economic mission to Saudi Arabia,” she said.
“This is not my first visit to Saudi Arabia. I had previously been afforded the opportunity to meet many Saudis from all walks of life,” she said. “This time, I am here in a different capacity as the head of the economic mission and I am very happy to be back.”
The delegation consists of some 170 companies and 350 business representatives who have registered to be part of the mission.
“Our delegation will move on to other cities in coming days, such as Jubail and Jeddah,” she said. “I was asked by King Philip to represent him during this mission and to be leader of this mission comprising a large group of representatives of Belgian companies, about 50 of whom are businesswomen.”
“Our big corporations were well represented, but we have also growing interest from our small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) for the Saudi market,” she said. She said the delegation represents a wide variety of sectors, ranging from energy to environment, logistics and health care to sport infrastructure, banking and services.