Update: “KSA ban on Dutch firms not official yet”

Opinion of “one Dutch national” does not reflect government’s views; no official ban has been placed on Dutch companies in Saudi Arabia yet

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Maurice Pourchez, first embassy secretary for economic & cultural affairs at the Netherlands Embassy in Saudi Arabia told Big Project ME that the Netherlands’ government will send a special envoy to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) by the end of this week to resolve the ambiguity surrounding the ban by the Kingdom on Dutch companies.

“The opinion of one Dutch national does not reflect the views of the government of the Netherlands,” Pourchez said. “This issue has been raised due to something that was said a few months ago, and the Dutch government had immediately sent out a timely response that expressed our disagreement with the stated opinion.”

Pourchez was referring to anti-Islamic comments passed by Geert Wilders, a member of parliament (MP) in the Netherlands. “The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands has stated he would like to visit Saudi Arabia soon,” Pourchez added, “and we’re looking forward to dialogue with authorities in the Kingdom to resolve this issue.”

He revealed that contrary to some reports, no official communication regarding a formal ban has been made yet. “We haven’t seen anything official yet,” Pourchez clarified. “We have indications that the government of Saudi Arabia could implement measures that might limit the relationship between the two countries.

“We don’t know the range or the impact of these measures,” he added.

Reports in local Saudi Arabian and international media had earlier suggested a formal ban had been placed by KSA’s government, restricting Dutch companies from participating in current and future projects in the Kingdom, besides limiting the number of visas that can be issued to Dutch nationals.

A representative from a major Dutch contracting company, who wished to remain anonymous, told Big Project ME that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has not formally placed any sanctions against Dutch firms operating in the country.

“Our area manager has confirmed that we have not received any formal notification regarding the reported ban on Dutch companies,” the spokesperson said. “The ban is not confirmed yet; the two governments are only in discussion regarding how to resolve this issue.

“I read in the Dutch newspapers that this (the ban) is not confirmed yet; you can check it too.”

Between 30 and 50 Dutch firms operate in Saudi Arabia, Pourchez said, adding they have formed strong local partnerships to facilitate smooth export/import activities between the two nations.

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