ممثلية المملكة العربية السعودية في بلجيكا Kingdom of Belgium About Belgium Belgium Information Belgium Information Last updated: 2/4/2016 5:21 PM Page Image Image Caption Page ContentThe Kingdom of Belgium is located in Western Europe and shares borders with both Germany and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg from the East, France from the west and the south-west, the North Sea from the north-west, and the Netherlands from the north.The capital, Brussels, is de facto considered the capital of the European Union because it is home to many important European institutions including the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) headquarters.Area: Belgium is a small country with an area of about 11.787 square miles.Climate: the climate is temperate just like the rest of Western Europe with cold winters and mild summers.Population: the population density is one of the highest in Europe. Demographically Belgium has three communities: the Flanders, the Walloons, and the Germans. The Belgians are made up of two ethnic groups; the French- speakers (mostly Walloons) who live in the south of Belgium and the Dutch-speakers (called the Flemish) who live in the northern part of Belgium. There is also German-speaking minority in the eastern part. Belgium's population is about ten million and a quarter. Official languages: The official languages recognized in Belgium are Dutch, French, and German. In essence, 59% of Belgians speak Dutch, 40% speak French, while today there is 1% a German-speaking.Religion: Catholicism is the main religion in the country.Other religions represented in the country include Islam, Protestantism, Orthodoxy, and Judaism.The most important cities are Brussels (the capital and the largest city) Antwerp, Gent, Charleroi, and Liège. Islamic Side:It should be noted that the practice of Islam in Belgium among immigrant communities is the religion of the largest minority in Belgium.An estimation made in 2008 shows that 6% of the Belgian population, about 628,751, is Muslim, constituting of Sunnis, Shi'ats, Alawaites, and Ahmadis.Muslims constitute 22.5 % of the population of Brussels, 4.0% of Wallonia, and 3.9% of Flanders. The majority of Belgian Muslims live in the big cities such as Brussels, Antwerp, and Charleroi. The largest groups of immigrants in Belgium are Moroccans and Turks.Moroccan and Turkish immigrants began coming in large numbers to Belgium starting in the 1960s as guest workers. Though the guest-worker program was abolished in 1974, many immigrants stayed and brought their families using family reunification laws. In 1974, Islam was recognized as one of the subsidized religions in Belgium and the Muslim Executive of Belgium was founded in 1996. In 2006, the government gave €6.1 million (US$7.7 million) to Islamic groups.There are an estimated 300 mosques in Belgium.At the end of 2005, approximately twenty municipalities (communes) had issued a ban on walking the streets completely veiled. In a few cases women were fined €150 (US$190) for ignoring the ban. Under a 1993 executive order, persons in the streets must be identifiable, based on laws dating back to the middle Ages. A veil which does not completely cover the body is however allowed.Economical and Cultural aspect (Side):The economic development that benefits both Saudi Arabia and the Kingdom of Belgium is a key pillar in the growth of economic relations between the two countries. Taking into consideration that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the world's largest producer and exporter of oil, and has one quarter of the world's known oil reserves, it plays a key (pivotal) role on the international level in the oil market and oil industries.Furthermore, its membership in the Group of Twenty categorizes it as one of the most influential countries with regard to global economic balance. As for the Kingdom of Belgium, it is considered as the International and Economic Center for European Union countries, as well as its capital, Brussels, which constitutes several premises for many global and European organizations.Upon the agreement on economic and technical cooperation in 1978 that had been concluded between the two Kingdoms, the economic relations between the two countries covered a wide range of commercial and industrial areas and services, thereby contributing to the creation of job opportunities for the youth as well as projects of cooperation and joint training.The priority on the Saudi economic external cooperation agenda, in order to reinforce the transfer and resettlement of experience of new technologies in the Kingdom, is to help creating job opportunities for the youth as well as projects of cooperation and joint training. Saudi Arabia has benefited from this by using transfer of expertise and new technologies, considered by the Kingdom as a support for its development plans.The economic relations between the two Kingdom include a variety of different and wide activities such as oil and its derivatives, petrochemical products, medical and pharmaceutical industries, contracting insurance and reinsurance, high-voltage line electricity, electrical transformers, equipment and engineering services, industrial and environmental safety and products, cocoa and chocolate marketing, jewelry, diamonds, radio and television broadcasting techniques and satellites. Political Side:Saudi Arabia ties up solid relationship with the Kingdom of Belgium based on mutual respect and common interests and non-interference in the internal affairs of each other and strengthened the relations between the two countries by exchange of visits at all levels over the past fifty years. It also resulted in the achievement of a common ground of understanding about the overall global political issues in order to achieve justice, peace, and humanitarian welfare.Belgian Embassy in Jeddah opened in 1954 at a level of chargé d' affaires. The first ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium in the city of Jeddah is Ambassador Ronald Watteeuw in 1964.In return, the first ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to Brussels was the Ambassador Fouad Nazer who was appointed in 1963. The ambassador Mohamed Hamza Charara followed him in 1972. The Ambassador Ibrahim Bakr in 1982. Then His Excellency Abdallah Al Moallimi in 2007 and then the ambassador Faisal Trad in 2011.His Excellency Ambassador Abdulrahman Alahmed started his duties on 18 February 2014 as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the Kingdom of Belgium, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, to the European Union and to the European Society of Atomic Energy.The official exchange of views between the two countries at the highest levels, started by the visit of King Abdul Aziz Al-Saud (may God have mercy on his soul) in 1967. Due to the late visit of King of Belgium Baudouin, a piece of land has been given to the Muslim community where the Islamic and Cultural Centre in Brussels has been established,Then, the late visit Belgian King Baudouin of Saudi Arabia in 1978 and afterwards the visit of King Khaled Ben Abdulaziz Al Saoud (may God have mercy on his soul), the Islamic and cultural center has opened in Brussels and is considered one of the most important Islamic centers in Europe.Eight high-level Belgian economic and trade missions visited Saudi Arabia in the years 1967,1974,1975,1982,1993,2002,2009 and the most recently one was the economic and trade mission to Saudi Arabia headed by Her Royal Highness Princess Astrid in March 2014. More than 350 economic and trade participants accompanied her. During the mission, several contracts and agreements have been signed between businesspersons from both Saudi and Belgian sides.A memorandum of understanding was signed pertaining political consultations between the Foreign Ministries of both countries in Riyadh on March 16, 2014. The memorandum has been signed by His Royal Highness Prince Saud Al Faisal, Minister of Foreign Affairs on behalf of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and by Mr. Didier Reynders, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs on behalf of the Kingdom of Belgium.