The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP

Media Release

FA140 - 14 October 2004 

Diplomatic Appointment: Ambassador to Saudi Arabia

I have today announced the appointment of Ian Biggs as Australian Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with non-resident accreditation to the Kingdom of Bahrain and the Republic of Yemen.

Mr Biggs will replace Bob Tyson, who has been Ambassador since June 2002. Mr Biggs is expected to take up his appointment in January 2005.

Australia greatly values its relations with Saudi Arabia, a major economy and highly influential country in a region of global strategic signficance. Saudi Arabia is Australia's largest trade partner in the Middle East. It is a major market for Australian exports of motor vehicles, dairy products and live animals. Trade in services, including education and tourism, is growing in importance. In 2003, Australian exports to Saudi Arabia totalled $1.8 billion. Saudi exports to Australia, principally comprising crude and refined petroleum, were worth $916 million. Several thousand Australians are employed in Saudi Arabia, in health, education and other specialist areas.

Australia also values its political and commercial relations with Bahrain, Oman and Yemen. As their economies open and diversify, Bahrain, Oman and Yemen represent growing trade and investment opportunities for Australian exporters and investors.

Mr Biggs is a senior career diplomat with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and is currently Special Assistant to the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency. He has also served as Third Secretary in Cairo (1986-88); Third Secretary and later Second Secretary in Riyadh (1988-91); First Secretary and later Counsellor in Damascus and Liaison Officer in Beirut (1992-94); and Deputy Head of Mission in Vienna (1998-2001).

In Canberra, Mr Biggs has held the positions of Director in Executive, Planning and Evaluation Branch (2001-02); Executive Director, Treaties Secretariat (1996-98); and Desk Officer in Middle East and Africa Branch (1991-92). Mr Biggs has also served as a Senior Analyst in the Office of National Assessments (1994-96).

Mr Biggs holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with double honours from the University of Sydney and a Master of Arts (International Relations) from the Australian National University. He is married with two school-age children.

Media inquiries:  Chris Kenny (Ministerial) 02 6277 7500/Julie McDonald (DFAT)) 02 6261 1555

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