Arancha González Laya meets with her Saudi counterpart

The Spanish Foreign Minister continues her visit to what is her first trading partner in the region
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PHOTO/MAEC  -   The Spanish Foreign Minister, Arancha González Laya, and her Saudi counterpart, Faisal bin Farhan, during their meeting on 9 February in Riyadh

The Spanish Foreign Minister continues her visit to the Gulf region. Saudi Arabia, the second stop, is Spain's leading trading partner in the region, with a volume of more than 6 billion euros in 2019. In addition, it should be noted that around a hundred Spanish companies are present in the region, some of them developing projects as important as the high-speed line between Mecca and Medina, and the construction of three lines of the Riyadh metro, a work that the minister has visited.

González Laya's most important appointment was the meeting with Faisal bin Farhan, Saudi Arabia's Minister of Foreign Affairs. During the meeting, Laya congratulated her counterpart on his presidency of the last G20 summit, which took place in the Saudi capital. The two discussed the situation in the Gulf, especially following the reconciliation with Qatar signed at the January summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

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PHOTO/MAEC - Arancha González Laya, Spain's Minister of Foreign Affairs, congratulated Saudi Arabia on its presidency of the G20 summit held in Riyadh in November and on the Vision 2030 strategy

The foreign ministers also discussed the challenges and prospects to be faced in the near future: the relations of the Arab countries with Israel, and the nearby conflicts in Libya and Yemen. The latter is a conflict in which Saudi Arabia has been, and continues to be, heavily involved. Other countries such as Lebanon, which is going through a delicate political and economic situation, Syria and Iraq were also present at the meeting. With respect to Yemen, Laya indicated that, despite the efforts made by Saudi Arabia, perhaps it is time to change the approach, something that the United States shares, and which Riyadh has expressed its support for.

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PHOTO/Khalid al-Falih - The Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Saudi Minister of Investment, Khalid al-Falih, have discussed possible Saudi investments in Spain

In the economic sphere, possibly the area in which relations between the two countries are closest, the Spanish minister met with the Saudi Minister of Investment, Khalid al-Falih. Laya praised Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 strategy, with which the Gulf monarchy seeks to diversify its investments by eliminating dependence on oil, while guaranteeing the development of the country and its society.

González Laya discussed with the Saudi minister and also with the governor of the Saudi sovereign wealth fund PIF, Yasir al-Rumayyan, the possibility of attracting Saudi investment to Spain within the framework of the Recovery Plan developed by the Spanish government. In the economic sphere, the minister also met with the Saudi Minister of Trade, Majid al-Qasabi.

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PHOTO/Ahmed al-Khateeb - Arancha González Laya, Spain's Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Ahmed al-Khateeb, Saudi Minister of Tourism, met at the archaeological site of Turaif, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Finally, on the tourism and cultural front, González Laya visited the archaeological site of Turaif, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the city of Diriyah. There she met with the Saudi Minister of Tourism, Ahmed al-Khateeb, with whom she discussed the development of the project to create the so-called Al-Turaif District, with which the country aims to boost tourism in this area while preserving the history, culture and heritage. 

Arancha González Laya will now head to Qatar, the last stage of her tour of the Gulf, where she will meet both Qatari authorities and Spanish representatives in the country.