Gérald Darmanin's Riyadh visit completes Macron ministers' Saudi tour
The French interior minister has yet to travel to Riyadh where he is now expected in early October. Saudi Arabia is hoping to draw on France's internal security expertise.
Will they, won't they? In the eyes of many, Berlin's decision to block the sale of Typhoon fighters to Saudi Arabia has opened up an opportunity for France to pitch Dassault's new generation Rafale. The Saudis are not opposed, but they have several other bids under consideration.
The Saudi crown prince's planned conquest of the football world is intimately intertwined with massive cheques, state interests and business networks lured by the financial windfall. A range of people close to the prince are competing for a slice of the pie.
High-level negotiations to bring Riyadh into the Global Combat Air Programe for the development of a British-Italian-Japanese next generation fighter aircraft are proceeding at a fast pace. London is keen to conclude quickly, as other suppliers, particularly the US, are hovering in the wings.
Mohammed bin Salman's planned visit to London is the object of lively diplomatic exchanges. Behind the scenes, Buckingham Palace, Doha and even Manama are each looking to ensure their interests are served.
As well as overseeing the creation of a mission-critical communications network for Saudi Arabia's security services, Khaled Al Biyari was recently tasked by the crown prince with travelling to Washington to discuss the possibility of buying US combat aircraft.
The Saudi Public Investment Fund's announcement in June that it will open an office in Paris by the end of the year has piqued the attention of Abu Dhabi's Mubadala. The UAE fund had itself considered opening a French desk and is wary of its Saudi rival's plans in France.
Berlin's decision to ban sales of Eurofighter's new Typhoon combat aircraft has opened a window of opportunity for France's Rafale fighters in Riyadh. French hopes could be compromised, however, by the interest being taken by the Saudi authorities in French-Saudi defence business networks.
Meetings between Saudi and French business leaders have intensified since Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited Paris in June. The Saudi conglomerate Nesma is hoping the bilateral momentum will lead to new deals with French partners.
A growing number of British intelligence officers are working to develop Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's top secret spy school, and there are starting to be concerns about the intelligence brain drain this is creating back home.
Saudi-Austrian real estate tycoon Mohamed bin Issa Al Jaber on one side, and his former partners Waleed bin Ibrahim Al Ibrahim and Majid bin Ibrahim Al Ibrahim on the other, are piling up legal action against each other in a dispute over a $30m payment made in 2002.
In its search for an optical satellite constellation, Saudi Arabia has made changes to its space strategy that could see it form a cooperation programme with French actors in the field.
Scopa Industries, which ran foul of the US authorities after it tried to set up partnerships with Russia and China, is aiming to get back into the US defence market, as illustrated by the non-binding agreement it has struck with European group Airbus.
From private meetings and an appearance at the Elysée to the lobbying campaign to host Expo 2030 in Riyadh, Mohammed bin Salman's schedule in the French capital - from 14 June - is set to be a busy one.
With a number of Saudi ministers expected in Paris this week as part of efforts to draw up a strategic bilateral partnership, French lobbying agency Hopscotch is backing the kingdom's efforts to be chosen as host for World Expo 2030.
As the strategic partnership between Paris and Riyadh takes shape, French companies are trying to tap into networks that will help them win contracts in Saudi Arabia. A handful of private and public business clubs and consultancies are jostling to champion French interests in the kingdom.
Irwin Katsof, who has played a significant role in US-Israeli relations over the years, is planning to introduce US funds to wealthy private investors in Saudi Arabia.
Jean-Pierre Raffarin, the former prime minister who became the French government's envoy for China, has recently made his mark on the Saudi-French business networks. For many French companies, that has resulted in a reorientation of their focus towards Mohammed bin Salman's large-scale plans.
As France and Saudi Arabia add the final touches to their strategic partnership, French investment funds are eyeing the fortunes of the wealthy Saudi business dynasties. The Al Othaim conglomerate is being especially courted.
As Saudi Arabia continues to build its Earth observation programmes, the Saudi Space Commission has laid the foundations for working with the US space industry, thanks in part to lobbying by Edelman.
Saudi Arabia has been lobbying in Washington to promote its vision for Yemen for a while. Now, the Southern Transitional Council, which has a growing footprint on the ground and a stronger presence in Yemen's legitimate governing entities, is also looking to ensure its voice is heard during the US-sponsored peace negotiations.
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