Australian Commonwealth Coat of Arms

Media release

21 December 2007

Diplomatic Appointment - Ambassador to Saudi Arabia

I have confirmed the appointment of Mr Kevin Magee as Australia’s new Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with non-resident accreditation to the Kingdom of Bahrain, the Sultanate of Oman and the Republic of Yemen. He will succeed Ian Biggs, who has been Ambassador since January 2005. Mr Magee is expected to take up his appointment in January 2008.

Australia and Saudi Arabia have strong and long-standing relations. Saudi Arabia is Australia's largest trade partner in the Middle East and is a major market for Australian exports of motor vehicles, barley, dairy products and live animals. In 2006, Australian merchandise exports to Saudi Arabia totalled $2.2 billion. Saudi exports to Australia, comprising principally crude oil, petrochemicals and petroleum, were worth $1.2 billion. Several thousand Australians are employed in Saudi Arabia, in engineering, health, education and other specialist areas and Australia is an increasingly attractive destination for Saudi students and tourists. Bilateral investment is also increasingly significant.

Australia recognises that Saudi Arabia is a major force for stability in its region and also in global energy markets. Australia and Saudi Arabia share a range of key international interests including international security and counter-terrorism.

Australia also values its warm and productive relations with Bahrain, Oman and Yemen. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Oman are members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Australia is currently negotiating and looks forward to the early conclusion of a high-quality and comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the GCC to further underpin these relations.

Mr Magee is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and was most recently Director of the China Political and External Section. Overseas, Mr Magee has served as Consul-General in Guangzhou (2003-06), Deputy Head of Mission in Moscow (2001-03), First Secretary in Singapore (1994-97) and Third Secretary in Beijing (1990-92). He was also a United Nations Disarmament Fellow based in Geneva and New York and joined the 47th Australian Delegation to the United Nations General Assembly in October 1992.

In Canberra, Mr Magee has also held the positions of Director, China Economic and Trade Section (2001), and Director, China Bilateral Relations Section (2000).

Mr Magee worked with the Victorian State Government in a senior advisory capacity from 1997 to 1999.

Educated at Monash University, Mr Magee holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with honours and a Bachelor of Laws degree. Mr Magee speaks Chinese, French and some Russian and German. He is married with two children.

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