Saudi Arabia’s deputy foreign minister has met with Mauritania’s education minister at the University of Nouakchott to lay the foundation of a new faculty building funded by the Saudi Kingdom.

At the stone-laying ceremony, Prince Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz announced his government’s allocation of a sum of some $30 million towards the cost of the building’s construction in the presence of Hmeida Ould Ahmed Taleb, the Mauritanian minister of higher education.

The faculty building is the most significant component of a complex that will also include female accommodation and a mosque.

The legal and economic department building is expected to host nearly 50% of students attending the University of Nouakchott.

The Minister further announced: “With the Saudi Fund, the Ministry will implement a series of educational projects, and build a total of 35 model schools in the state’s capital at a cost of $10m.”

He added that Saudi Arabia had “agreed to fund the construction of a drinking water network to be tendered by the Ministry of Water and Sanitation.”

This significant spending by Saudi Arabia expands the scope of bilateral relations and collaboration between the two countries, building on Saudi Arabia’s existing investment into the mining sector, where it is pursuing iron ore exploration activities.

Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC), a state industry group and the largest company in the Middle East, commenced iron ore exploration at Atomai in the northern Zouerate region of Mauritania in a partnership with Mauritania’s state mining interest in January.

The same month the Arab Gulf Program for Development (AGFUND), a Riyadh-based regional organisation, also announced plans at the 73rd Arab Aid event to back a micro-finance bank in Mauritania as part of an initiative back by a $224m loan and with a further $13m in direct investment.