Spanish Ambassador Álvaro Iranzo Gutierrez

Riyadh Daily
Kingdom top economic partner to Spain in Arab world; ready to partner in Vision 2030, says envoy

Kingdom top economic partner to Spain in Arab world; ready to partner in Vision 2030, says envoy
Saudi Arabia is Spain’s main economic partner in the Arab world, with the value of trade in goods and services reaching 5.5 billion euros in 2016 (around SR 25 billion).
In an interview with Riyadh Daily, newly arrived Spanish Ambassador Álvaro Iranzo Gutierrez said that Saudi Vision 2030 is an “enlightened project” for the future of Saudi Arabia. “Spain is ready to be part of this endeavor and extend our cooperation to all fields,” he said on the eve his country’s National Day which falls on Thursday.
“We fully support the Vision 2030. Our companies are ready to contribute and help it develop in all areas, such as the development of renewable energies and state-of-the-art infrastructure. Spain hopes to contribute to unleash the potential of Saudi youth using professional training centers across the country.”
Ambassador Gutierrez added that bilateral relations were moving forward “at a good pace. It is a strategic relation that looks into a promising future.”

Cultural, political relations

On cultural ties, he said, “Saudi Arabia is in the heart of the Arab-Islamic civilization and Spain is an old European nation with an enormous heritage resulting from its geographical and historic location as cross-roads of civilizations. In the 21st century, Spain and Saudi Arabia can and must go hand in hand to help make the planet more pacific, prosperous and sustainable. It is an honor for me to take part in these efforts and to live in this beautiful country, where I have received a warm reception that reflects its best traditions.”
Speaking further on the close ties between the two countries, the ambassador said that the relations are solid and growing at all levels, “inspired by the brotherly relationship that our royal families have nurtured.” These strong relations received further impetus when Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz warmly received King Felipe VI of Spain in Riyadh.
“Both our governments work together effectively in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism. It is our shared concern to ensure the safety and security of our societies and our citizens. We also collaborate with this aim in the context of the King Abdulaziz International Center for Interreligious Dialogue (KAICIID), the only intergovernmental organization with a Board composed by representatives of the world's major religions. We share the same vision on most international issues.”

People-to-people relations

On the relationship between the Saudi and Spanish peoples, the ambassador noted that human exchanges are the most valued development. “Our societies are becoming more interconnected. Spain is proud of its identity features, its music, food, architecture and strong family structures, all of which owes much to the footprint the Arab-Islamic civilization left in our country.
“Several thousand Spaniards have come to the Kingdom over the last decade. Every single one of them brings a piece of Spain with them; be it music, food, traditions and of course, love of football.
“Each one of them will also take a piece of Saudi Arabia back home. The same applies for the many thousands of Saudis visiting Spain every year. They are the safest bridges we can build between our countries.
“The thousands of Saudi citizens that spend their holidays in Spain are big connoisseurs of our country. We can’t praise enough the affection of Saudi people for sport, the Spanish football, in particular, which is followed with passion in the Kingdom.”

Spanish companies

Speaking about the growing presence of Spanish companies in Saudi Arabia, Ambassador Gutierrez said there are 120 of them established locally. Together with Saudi partners, they are involved in impressive infrastructure projects in the Kingdom.
Referring to the new metro being established in Riyadh, he said that this will provide comfortable mobility to the millions of citizens in Riyadh. Moreover, the high speed train connecting the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah, “defies the boldest dreams of architects and engineers throughout the world and will give a rapid and comfortable service to millions of Muslim pilgrims and Saudi citizens who will enjoy this unique infrastructure.”
Other large infrastructure projects related to water, electricity and renewable energies are also under way, while Spanish brands are well represented in the Kingdom’s shopping malls, he noted.

Spanish National Day

On the significance of Spain’s National Day, the ambassador said that October 12, 1492, was the day the Spanish navigator, Christopher Columbus, discovered America, bearing the banners of the Spanish Crown.
He explained, “Columbus’ adventure has become a benchmark of human history; it put in touch two worlds that had evolved independently for thousands of years. After 1492, trade and exchanges multiplied on a global scale. The process called ‘globalization’ had just started. Spain brought to America its language, culture and religion, and also its science, arts and philosophy. Most of this heritage needs to be seen through the eyes of 16th century Spaniards who had integrated 700 years of Arabic and Islamic presence in Al Andalus as their own. In exchange, Spain shared with the world the treasures discovered in America; a rich historic and cultural heritage as well as many of the crops that are now part of our daily nutrition.”

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