• Agreements cover purchase of 30 patrol boats
  • Defence-related transactions between France and Saudi Arabia increasing

France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls signed a series of contracts and letters of intent with a total value estimated at €10bn ($11bn) during his visit to Saudi Arabia this week.

Valls posted the cumulative contract value on his Twitter account on 13 October.

One of the major agreements is for the procurement of 30 patrol boat units.

Other sectors covered by the agreements include communications, energy, health, food and infrastructure, according to local media reports.

There has been a growing traction in defence-related transactions between the two countries. These include the $3bn Saudi-funded weapons grant for the Lebanese army in 2013. Saudi Arabia also expressed keen interest in August to acquire French warships that were originally designed for Russia. The sale of the warships to Russia was cancelled due to the Ukraine crisis.

Defence-related investments across the GCC are on the rise due to geopolitical conflicts and terror threats, as well as the participation of the majority of the GCC states in the Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen.

Travelling with Defence Minister Jean Yves Le Drian, Valls attended the Saudi-French Business Opportutnities Forum held in Riyadh on 12 and 13 October.

It is also understood that Valls met with King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud to request what local media describe as “a gesture of pardon, humanity and clemency” for Ali al-Nimr, a 21-year-old Saudi who faces execution for participating in anti-government protests.

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