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In continuation of the Royal Commission for Al-Ula’s global partnerships, Saudi Arabia joins hands with France on sustainable development of Al-Ula

Paris, Rajab 24, 1439, April 10, 2018, SPA -- The Royal Commission for Al-Ula is very pleased to announce the signing of a historic agreement of cooperation as part of the ambitious development project of Al-Ula county. A region of outstanding natural and cultural significance in northwest Saudi Arabia, Al-Ula is home to the Nabataean city of Mada’in Salih, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008. Today, in the presence of His Royal Highness the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic, and Gérard Mestrallet, Special Envoy of the French President for Al-Ula, the intergovernmental agreement was signed by His Highness Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al-Saud, Governor of Al-Ula, and Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of the French Republic The new partnership reflects Saudi Arabia’s commitment to protect and promote world heritage and develop a sustainable tourism and cultural sector with international partners, reinforcing cooperation in all these fields through concrete actions and structured projects. As one of the Kingdom’s primary cultural development projects, both nations will embark on a collaborative project to planning & articulating development the historical sites of Al-Ula and the necessary infrastructure for tourism in the context of a sensitive transformation of the region. The aim is to enable local, regional and international visitors to Al-Ula to experience the richness of Saudi Arabia’s cultural heritage, Arabian civilizations and local values, and in line with Vision 2030, to positively support the creation of a thriving economy. Home to dramatic desert landscapes, spectacular rock formations and some of the Middle East’s most significant ancient sites, including those built by Lihyanite and Nabataean civilisations of the 1st millennium BCE and beyond, Al-Ula is a wonder of the ancient Arabian world. Originally called Hegra, Mada’in Salih was the Southern Nabataean capital with Petra the Northern capital. Situated at a historic crossroads of civilisations, this 22,561km² area located 300km north of Madinah, has been on an important route of travel used from at least the first millennium BCE for the trade of valuable commodities such as frankincense and myrrh, and has witnessed a history of exchange between cultures. Both parties are driven by a joint commitment & willingness to protect and promote world heritage and environment, to support sustainable tourism, cultural and educational programme, openness to the dialogue between culture. The terms of the agreement are: -An intergovernmental agreement related to the cultural, heritage, natural, tourism, human & economic development of the Al-Ula county between both States. In order to achieve these ambitions, the agreement includes the following areas of cooperation: oUrban master planning, infrastructure and mobility; oArchaeological and architectural heritage preservation and planning; oCultural and artistic offerings and cultural engineering; oHospitality development promoting sustainable tourism and preservation of the environment; oHandicraft and local economy; oStrengthening of capacities, skills and technology transfer and provision of expertise In addition to the agreement, further Memorandum of Understandings were signed to ensure activation of the promising partnership: -A MoU between the Royal Commission for Al-Ula and Campus France, the leading international academic and vocational public institution in France, to welcome Al-Ula’s students starting from Autumn 2018. The MoU was signed during the CEO Forum where the French institutions and companies were publicly invited to take part in the changes taking place in the Kingdom by participating in the education and professional training of Saudi youth, ensuring the success and sustainability of the economic transformation plan of the country. -A MoU between the Royal Commission for Al-Ula and the Arab World Institute to produce a touring exhibition on Al-Ula’s Civilizations opening Spring 2019 at the Arab World Institute in Paris. The French Capital will be the first city in the world to welcome and display Al-Ula’s treasures. The exhibition will explore the Al-Ula region’s rich history from ancient times to future projects in this new era for Al-Ula. Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al-Saud, Governor of the Royal Commission for Al-Ula, said: “In July 2017, a royal decree installed the Royal Commission for Al-Ula with the mission of protecting and reinvigorating Al-Ula. Today, the signing of this agreement is a continuation of the commission’s effort to expand its global collaborators network to support the ambition of our project for Al-Ula: preserve its heritage and build the infrastructures and facilities that its beauty deserves. In order to do so, we are committed to respecting the most demanding environmental standards of ecotourism and to integrating the region’s inhabitants into the process so that they might be the first beneficiaries of the project. In these matters, France is a key partner to help us reach our objectives.” Gérard Mestrallet, Special Envoy of the French President for Al-Ula, said: “The signing of this agreement is the birth of a historic project that binds our two countries through an in-depth cultural dialogue. I am very proud to bring my experience to this joint venture and to help coordinate all the French expertise that might be useful to ensuring the successful delivery of the project.”