The Franco-Saudi Monitoring Committee of the intergovernmental agreement of 10 April 2018, on cultural, environmental, tourism, human and economic development and the enhancement of the heritage of the governorate of AlUla in Saudi Arabia, met for the first time on 31 January 2022 in Paris.

Chaired by Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, and His Highness Prince Badr bin Abdullah Al-Saud, Minister of Culture of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the committee brought together the French Minister of Culture, Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin, Saudi Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih, Saudi Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Walid bin Abdul Karim Al-Khuraiji, as well as the leaders of French and Saudi operators for the development of AlUla, Mr. Amr Al Madani, Director General of the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) and Mr. Gérard Mestrallet, Executive President of the French Agency for the Development of AlUla (Afalula).

During this joint committee, the representatives of the two governments welcomed the success of the Franco-Saudi partnership in AlUla in all areas of cooperation identified in the 2018 intergovernmental agreement. In particular, they praised the success of the archaeological programme carried out over the past three years, which brings together nearly 120 researchers and archaeologists, making AlUla’s governorate the first centre of archaeological activity in the world.

They also welcomed the launch of the artistic and cultural project of Villa Hegra, enshrined in an agreement signed during the visit of President Emmanuel Macron to Saudi Arabia on 4 December 2021. In all these sectors, as well as in all cultural, industrial and economic fields, the Franco-Saudi Committee invited the RCU and Afalula to continue and intensify their collaboration.

The second part of the session provided an opportunity for representatives from both governments to discuss other outstanding cultural projects, particularly in the area of museums. In addition, the committee referred to the French heritage endowment fund provided for in the 2018 intergovernmental agreement, to be the subject of an implementing agreement. Ministers agreed to the creation of a joint working group to negotiate the final terms of this agreement for signature by both parties.

The parties have agreed to hold an upcoming session of the Joint Committee on 2th semester 2022.