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Saudi Arabia, Switzerland to sign investment protection accord

Arab News

Saudi Arabia, Switzerland to Sign Investment Protection Accord

8 March 2006

RIYADH - Saudi Arabia and Switzerland have agreed to cooperate in the fields of economy and tourism following the visit of a 20-member Swiss business mission to the Kingdom and the Gulf. The two countries plan to sign an investment protection agreement during the visit of Swiss Minister of Economy Joseph Deiss to the Kingdom on April 1 this year.

"The ministerial visit will also see the signing of another memorandum of understanding (MoU), formally setting up a Saudi-Swiss Business Council," said Swiss officials, at a reception hosted by Swiss Ambassador, Dominik M. Alder. The delegation led by Federico Sommaruga, director of Switzerland Tourism, will also visit Jeddah and Dammam during the 15-day promotion tour before continuing on to Kuwait and the UAE.

Another project conceived by the two sides includes a month-long training program in which introduction to international tourism, hospitality, communication and IT in tourism sector including real-life case studies to be taught to Saudi students. The cost of training will be subsidized by business entities and, according to the spokesman,

"A minimum of 15 Saudi students will go to Switzerland in the first group as part of this study tour program."

He pointed out that an MoU was also signed by the Council of Saudi Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Switzerland Tourism to forge closer cooperation in the tourism sector. Hence, there are several new initiatives which will boost business and tourism links further.

"But, we also want a return on our investment especially in tourism sector and that return should be in the form a large number of Saudi tourists willing to visit Switzerland," the spokesman said.

He said that more than 30,000 Saudi nationals visited that country every year. Saudis, he said, were one of biggest spenders in Switzerland.

"The Gulf countries report yearly a quarter million overnights in Switzerland," said the Swiss official.

On the commercial front, the two countries have already forged closer relations. The Kingdom and Switzerland have reported consistent growth, with Swiss exports exceeding $1 billion last year.

The two countries have also set up 12 joint projects with a cumulative capital of SR1.573 billion.