By Arab News
Saudi Arabia’s Royal Commission for AlUla signed four agreements with four French institutions on Sunday to support the authority’s strategy to become a leading global destination for cultural and natural heritage.
Two of the agreements were in the cultural field and the other two in infrastructure, and aim to enhance the quality of life for residents and visitors, coinciding with the visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to the Kingdom.
The agreements come as an extension of strong Saudi-French relations and cooperation in several areas in AlUla governorate, where an intergovernmental agreement was signed on April 10, 2018 that focused on urban, cultural, tourism and sustainable development, the commission said.
The agreements, with active French participation, will contribute to the commission’s strategy for distinguished global partnerships, especially in archaeology, infrastructure, hospitality, and smart city infrastructure development.
“These partnerships will also contribute to providing training and knowledge transfer opportunities to provide Saudis with new capabilities and skills,” RCU said.
120 students were sent to the two previous stages of the RCU’s International Scholarship Program, in addition to 24 students graduating as chefs from the Michelin-starred Ferrandi International Institute.
Amr Al-Madani, CEO of the RCU, said that the “Villa Hegra” agreement aimed to build a Saudi-French cultural institution according to the “French Villa” model, reinforcing AlUla’s position as a cultural hub and the Villa Hegra as a global model.
This marks the model’s arrival in the Middle East, with 11 international locations, including seven in France and others in Mexico and Rome; each has been designed to suit the natural and cultural environment of the region.
He added that the agreement with the French 3D software company Dassault Systemes was based on developing a digital model that contributed to an accurate analysis of AlUla’s operations, to contribute to transforming document-based operations into a 3D visual display environment.
“This will allow for institutional excellence through a detailed visualization of the governorate, in a way that enhances the objectives of supporting development and investment and contributes to developing AlUla as a smart city, taking into account its cultural nature,” Al-Madani said.
He also said the partnership with the RATPDev Saudi Arabia Limited aims to develop a world-class public transport system in AlUla, where the company will contribute to designing public transport operations and provide assessments and recommendations to meet the needs of Al-Ula.
It also provided recommendations and solutions for the full development lifecycle of mobility operations in AlUla, from design to implementation and maintenance, he said, adding that the company was one of the best in this field globally.
These agreements are part of efforts to achieve AlUla’s vision, by promoting it as a cultural and nature destination, and in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 to diversify its economic tributaries, by developing the cultural, arts and antiquities sectors, and enhancing AlUla’s position as a destination for developing human competencies in hospitality, services and culinary arts.