On Behalf of King of Belgium, Princess Astrid Honors Prince Alwaleed “Grand Officer of the Order of Leopold”
16th March 2014
HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud, Chairman of Kingdom Holding Company (KHC) and Chairman of Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation– Global (Registered in Lebanon), was honored “Grand Officer of the Order of Leopold” by HRH Princess Astrid of Belgium on behalf of HM King Philippe of Belgium. The honoring took place at the Council of Saudi Chambers in Riyadh today Sunday 16th March 2014.
During the honoring ceremony Prince Alwaleed gave a speech. His Highness expressed his appreciation to HM King Philippe of Belgium for the honor that was bestowed upon him. HRH also welcomed HRH Princess Astrid and the Belgian delegation. In addition, Prince Alwaleed referred to the bi-lateral economic relations between Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Kingdom of Belgium, emphasizing on the exports that have grown by 50% since the last business delegation’s visited to Saudi Arabia in 2009. Furthermore, HRH expressed his pride at the collaboration between Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation - Global and the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC).
The ceremony was also attended by HRH Princess Reema Bint Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud, HRH Prince Khaled Bin Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud, HRH Princess Reem Bint Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud, HH Princess Moneerah Al-Assaf, wife of HRH Prince Khaled Bin Alwaleed Bin Talal and Mr. Salah Alhujailan.
The delegation from HRH’s private office included Ms. Nada Alsugair, Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Dr. Nahla Nasser Alanbar, Private Executive Assistant to HRH the chairman and Mr. Fahad Bin Saad Bin Nafel, Executive Assistant to HRH the Chairman.
The delegation from KHC included Ms. Heba Fatani, Senior Executive Manager, Corporate Communications Department and Ms. Manal Alshammary, Manager, Protocol Department.
The event was also attended by Ms. Abir Kaki, Secretary General of Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation.
The Belgian delegation included HE Didier REYNDERS, Deputy Prime Minister and Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and European Affairs, HE Jean-Claude MARCOURT, Vice-President and Minister of Economy, SMEs, Foreign Trade and New Technologies of the Walloon Government and Minister of Higher Education of the Government of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, HE Céline FREMAULT, Minister of Economy, Employment, Scientific Research, Trade and Foreign Trade of the Brussels-Capital Region and HE Marc VINCK, Ambassador of Belgium to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
In 2013, Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation – Global (Registered in Lebanon), signed a memorandum of understanding “MOU” with The EORTC Charitable Trust, in which HRH Princess Astrid of Belgium is the Honorary President, for the benefit of the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC). The Alwaleed Foundation had partnered with EORTC and supported the initiation phase of the project “Towards the Improvement of the Outcome of Patients with Acute Leukemia”, a currently fatal disease, through high quality research that enables a better understanding of the disease at the molecular level. The EORTC was founded as an international organization under Belgian law in 1962 by eminent oncologists working in the main cancer research institutes of the EU countries and Switzerland. The aims of (EORTC) are to develop, conduct, coordinate, and stimulate translational and clinical research in Europe to improve the management of cancer and related problems by increasing survival but also patient quality of life.
In 2009, Prince Alwaleed received and hosted a dinner in honor of HRH Prince Philippe, Crown Prince of Belgium and an accompanying delegation. The occasion was also attended by H.E Alaudeen Alaskary, Chief of Protocol for the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a delegation from Kingdom Holding Company (KHC) that is chaired by Prince Alwaleed, Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation and HRH Prince Alwaleed’s Private Office.
In the same year, Prince Alwaleed received HRH Princess Astrid of Belgium at his office and hosted a luncheon in honor of the Princess at Kingdom Tower.
Prince Alwaleed’s Speech:
Thank you, Your Royal Highness.
Your Royal Highness, Your Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.
I wish to express to Your Royal Highness and to His Majesty King Philippe my heartfelt appreciation for the honor that has just been bestowed upon me. It is a decoration that I shall always cherish and treasure.
However, I look upon this honor not only as a form of personal recognition for whatever role I have played in cementing the ties between Belgium and Saudi Arabia, but also as symbolic of the good relations and strong bonds that have developed between our two countries over the past decades. Indeed, the Belgian Delegation’s presence here today can perhaps be regarded as a form of celebration, almost to the day, of the sixtieth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Belgium and Saudi Arabia on March 3rd, 1954.
The presence of this large delegation, consisting of nearly 350 businessmen and women, is also indicative not only of the vast export opportunities that the Belgian business community perceives in Saudi Arabia (exports which have grown by 50% since the last business delegation visited Saudi Arabia in 2009, and which now exceed 1.5 billion Euros), but also of the growing Saudi awareness that Belgium has a great many things to offer, beyond its legendary pommes frites and chocolates.
The sectors represented in this delegation are impressively wide and varied. They cover pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, energy, environment, construction, infrastructure, engineering, tele-communications, to name only a few. Belgian and Saudi partnership in those fields is obviously mutually beneficial, and it should be encouraged. However, equally important, I believe, is the promotion of ties in other spheres, chiefly in education, in humanitarian endeavors and in cultural activities. I, myself, am exceedingly proud of the collaboration that the Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation has had with Her Royal Highness Princess Astrid for the advancement of cancer research. I am also very pleased that Saudi students have begun to head to well-known Belgian universities for further study. Those activities need to be vigorously encouraged, for their long term returns are not only mutually beneficial, but are also long enduring. I, therefore, call upon both the Belgian and Saudi business communities to generously support them in every way. I am confident that, if we work together in those and other realms, the possibilities are infinite. Rest assured that I will be with you in that endeavor.