Why the French can sell arms and culture to Saudi Arabia, but the US and UK only arms

The Art Newspaper | Anna Somers Cocks

The Americans sell arms to Saudi Arabia and the British sell arms to Saudi Arabia, but only the French sell arms and culture to Saudi Arabia. How do they manage it in a part of the world that has traditionally been part of the Anglo-American sphere of influence and where almost nobody speaks French? How did the French steal a march on us?

Quite apart from the sway and prestige this gives them, there is a great deal of money in play. The vast proposed museum and archaeological park at Al-Ula in the north-west of the country is a project estimated at $50bn to $100bn, of which large sums will go to France for its advisory role. In addition, the Saudis will pay for professorial chairs in Islamic culture at French universities, and for the French to train Saudi Arabia’s nascent tourist industry. French firms will be well placed to build its infrastructure, possibly to include a large seaside resort on the Red Sea…read more

Image: Mada’in Saleh in the Al-Ula region. Courtesy ActiveSteve