Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
February 12, 2018
U.S. Embassy in Riyadh Celebrates National Day
On February 12, 2018, Chargé d’Affaires Christopher Henzel hosted Governor of Riyadh Region His Royal Highness Prince Faisal Bin Bandar Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, distinguished Saudi officials, and a number of guests to celebrate the 242nd year of the independence of the United States of America. The reception was held at Quincy House, the official residence of the U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
At the event, Mr. Henzel delivered the following remarks:
Your Royal Highness, excellencies, ladies and gentleman,
Welcome, and thank you for joining us this evening to celebrate the 242nd birthday of the United States. I especially want to welcome the Governor of Riyadh, His Royal Highness Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, as well as our many sponsors with us tonight.
The year 2017 witnessed remarkable developments in the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United States. Saudi Arabia welcomed our President to Riyadh – the first stop of his first overseas trip as President – which brought together 55 heads of state at the Arab-Islamic-American summit. During the visit, defense and commercial agreements worth billions of dollars were signed, further strengthening the partnership between our two countries. This visit – and those of the many other senior American delegations that regularly travel to Saudi Arabia – make clear that our two countries continue to face challenges together in a spirit of cooperation and friendship. That partnership – based on shared fundamental interests in economic prosperity, security, and stability – is important for the region and for the world. I want to take a moment to highlight some of many aspects of the strong U.S.-Saudi partnership:
- The U.S. and Saudi Arabia share a long history of security cooperation. During the President’s visit, we established the new Terrorist Financing Targeting Center to counter terrorist networks in the region and beyond.
- We welcomed the establishment of Etidal – the Global Center for Combatting Extremist Ideology – an international hub that promotes coexistence and tolerance. Countering violent extremism is a very high priority for both of our governments.
- Our two countries have long shared a strong economic relationship, with ties in trade and investment that have created jobs for thousands of Americans and Saudis. Bilateral trade in goods between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia amounted to $35 billion last year. Saudi citizens and companies hold major investments in the United States that employ thousands of Americans. For example, Saudi Aramco now owns the largest refinery in the United States, in Port Arthur, Texas. American companies are working with their Saudi partners on additional investment projects in energy, infrastructure, defense, healthcare, and many other sectors that will further strengthen our economic and commercial ties.
- Over the past year, we have seen increased cultural exchange between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, partly under the auspices of Vision 2030. American performance artists such as Blue Man Group, singers like Nelly and Toby Keith, and events like the Monster Jam have made history in the Kingdom as part of Saudi Arabia’s new initiative to offer more entertainment options. In the same vein, the Embassy has sent many Saudis to the United States on cultural exchanges and brought artists and musical performers to the Kingdom. One of the most important facets of the U.S.-Saudi relationship is cooperation in the field of education. Right now, there are roughly 66,000 Saudi students in American universities. The Saudi government is making an incredible investment in the future of its country. I am proud that American higher education is able to play such an important role in that effort.
The Saudi government’s plans for the further development of the Kingdom continue at an impressive rate. The United States is strongly supportive of Saudi Arabia’s ambitious goals. As the Saudi Arabian government implements its vision, we believe that both sides will continue to benefit from our unique bilateral relationship, and that that partnership will continue to grow.
Your Royal Highness, excellencies, ladies and gentleman, I hope you will enjoy the wonderful food tonight prepared by the Ritz-Carlton and enjoy the company of our many esteemed guests.
So again, a warm welcome to this year’s celebration, and I hope you enjoy the evening.
Members of the U.S. Marine Corps present the American flag at the U.S. National Day celebration.
Mr. Henzel and His Royal Highness Prince Faisal Bin Bandar Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud cut the cake at the U.S. National Day celebration.