Cultural excellence is a powerful engine for economic growth
It is now a proven fact that cultural diplomacy can provide a good deal of support to the economy as a whole. France, in particular, has demonstrated that promoting nation's culture on the global stage can bring significant strategic advantages. The day following the inauguration of the Louvre Abu Dhabi last November, the French President Emmanuel Macron and the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) Al Saoud of Saudi Arabia had a lengthy and constructive discussion during which the two leaders negotiated a project that aims to build a world-class museum and an archaelogical park at Al-Ula. The two countries reached agreement last month. This project intends to become a point of reference for the whole international cultural scene and is estimated to cost at least $80 billion. French institutions and companies will have an exclusive role as advisors and designers. The economic spin offs expected from this development project appear to be substantial for both parties. The Crown Prince MBS has with this unique cultural project an excellent opportunity to demonstrate to the world that he opened a new chapter for Saudi Arabia. And tourism revenues will skyrocket. At almost the same time, French authorities discussed with the Saudis the conclusion of contracts concerning sophisticated heavy weapons. We must recall that Saudi Arabia is behind India the second biggest client of the French arms industry. And of course, soft power based on cultural excellence also has a ripple effect on many companies involved in infrastructure, the building of new cities and the development of cultural tourism. As a matter of fact, culture and business are increasingly linked.