Bilateral relations between Germany and Saudi Arabia were formalised as early as 1929, with the signing of the Treaty of Friendship between Germany and the Kingdom of Hejaz, Nejd and Dependencies. This was three years before the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was proclaimed. The Federal Republic of Germany has maintained diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia since 1954. The governments of both countries hold consultations on a regular basis.
Saudi Arabia is Germany’s second most important trading partner in the Arab world after the United Arab Emirates. For its part, Germany is the fourth-largest supplier of goods to Saudi Arabia. Germany’s main exports to Saudi Arabia are machinery, motor vehicles, chemical products and electrical, precision engineering and optical goods. The Vision 2030 reform programme and the desire to diversify Saudi Arabia’s economy offer good prospects for the further development of German and Saudi Arabian economic cooperation. The main objectives of the programme include:
- drive diversification of the economy,
- reform the education system,
- promote small and medium-sized enterprises,
- advance the integration of women into the labour market,
- double the number of Umrah pilgrims,
- and further develop general tourism, as well as the cultural and mining sectors.
The German-Saudi Arabian Liaison Office for Economic Affairs (GESALO) in Riyadh represents German business interests in the country, and the Joint Economic Commission (GWK) is a Saudi-German forum that comprises government and business representatives.
Cultural relations between Germany and Saudi Arabia were not established until fairly recently. Cultural cooperation is based on an intergovernmental agreement that entered into force on 2 April 2006. There are German Schools in Jeddah and Riyadh. The expansion of the cultural programme in Saudi Arabia, as well as cultural and social liberalisation, are also elements of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.