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RIYADH: Armenia and Saudi Arabia share the common value of respect for religious diversity and heritage, Gevorg Melikyan, founder and CEO of the Armenian Institute for Resilience and Statecraft, has said.

Melikyan, ex-advisor to former Armenian President Armen Sarkissian, was in Saudi Arabia for the first time to attend the Saudi Media Forum at the invitation of Arab News Editor-in-Chief Faisal Abbas.

“Armenia stands as one of the oldest cradles of Christianity, with a rich history deeply intertwined with the faith. The country’s cultural heritage is marked by ancient monasteries, churches, and traditions that reflect its enduring commitment to Christianity over centuries,” Melikyan said.

“Saudi Arabia holds a central position in the Muslim world as the birthplace of Islam and home to its two holiest cities, Makkah and Madinah. The country’s religious significance is unparalleled, attracting millions of Muslims from around the world for pilgrimage and spiritual fulfillment,” he added.

“I am currently exploring this remarkable country, which has been somewhat hidden from Armenia and its people due to certain diplomatic and other obstacles. Through initiatives like participating in events such as this media forum, we are collectively working to overcome these obstacles and forge stronger connections between our nations.”

Melikyan also held a meeting with Dr. Abdulaziz Sager, chairman of the Gulf Research Center in Riyadh.

“The primary objective of this meeting was to bolster cooperation between our respective institutions, cultivate additional avenues for collaboration, and deepen mutual understanding between experts from Armenia and Saudi Arabia across various disciplines,” he said.

The establishment of diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Armenia was catalyzed by a historic visit from President Sarkissian to Saudi Arabia in October 2021, said Melikyan.

“This significant event marked a turning point in the relationship between the two nations, which had previously been unable to establish diplomatic ties since the dissolution of the Soviet Union and Armenia’s re-emergence as an independent state in 1991.”

Melikyan said the Sarkissian visit paved the way for discussions aimed at formalizing diplomatic relations, laying the groundwork for future cooperation between the two nations.  

He added that Saudi Arabia and Armenia stand to benefit from such cooperation, fostering economic growth, cultural exchange, and regional stability.

“Both countries possess unique strengths and resources that could complement each other in various fields. For instance, Armenia has a strong technology sector and a skilled workforce in areas such as IT and engineering, while Saudi Arabia boasts significant economic resources and investment potential,” he said.

The establishment of diplomatic relations between Armenia and Saudi Arabia could offer opportunities for interfaith dialogue, cultural exchange, and mutual understanding, he noted.

“Both nations recognize the importance of religious tolerance and coexistence in fostering peace and harmony within their societies and beyond,” Melikyan said. 

He pointed out that closer ties between Armenia and Saudi Arabia could contribute to greater stability in the South Caucasus and the Gulf region, and highlighted the significance of Saudi Vision 2030, saying the focus on innovation, entrepreneurship, and investment in human capital reflects a commitment to positioning Saudi Arabia as a dynamic and competitive player on the global stage.

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