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British investors support Saudi initiatives
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 06 - 10 - 2012


Samar Fatany

Opportunity Arabia 9 was a most welcome initiative after the blasphemous film against the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) triggered strong Muslim objections throughout the Middle East and the Muslim world.
The business event held in London on Oct. 1 was a refreshing development that offered strong testimonies from leading British personalities and former diplomats dispelling the misconceptions that have created a negative picture of Saudi Arabia and have dissuaded many British companies from investing in the Kingdom.
The main objective of the one-day seminar organized by the Middle East Association, MEA, in partnership with the Committee for International Trade (CIT) of the Council of Saudi Chambers of Commerce was to foster better trade relations and to project the available business opportunities in Saudi Arabia to the British business community. The event attracted over 300 organizations from British business and industrial sectors.
The meeting was chaired by Sir Alan Munro British ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1989 - 1993. His close business and political connections with Saudi Arabia enriched the presentations with valuable analyses and meaningful commentary.
Distinguished speakers delivered a wealth of information to encourage British investments. They outlined the huge business potential in the Kingdom in infrastructure and industrial sectors and presented serious studies of the growing importance of alternative energy sources to create a healthy environment and a more sustainable development in Saudi Arabia.
The experts also spoke about the accelerating reforms and the process of modernizing the Kingdom which is gaining momentum politically, socially and economically.
Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, Chairman of the Saudi British Society and British ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 2003 – 2006, spoke from the heart when he described the Kingdom as the region's richest and most rewarding and lucrative market. He advised those who want to establish fruitful business relationships with the Kingdom to offer quality products and to be willing to share intellectual property to create genuine joint ventures that will not only make a profit but will also build blocks of future prosperity.
Omar Bahlaiwa, Secretary General of the Council of Saudi Chambers of Commerce and of the CIT, presented an informative report about the strength of the Saudi economy and the major investment opportunities in Saudi Arabia.
The chairman of the British Business Association in the Eastern Province highlighted the Kingdom's large scale petrochemical facilities and provided necessary information for British investors in the petrochemical fields.
Senior British businessmen currently working for Saudi companies in the Kingdom provided advice and valuable data on a wide range of industrial and service sectors.
The business forum also provided the business community in Britain with briefings, networking opportunities and consultancy advice to encourage British investors to support the implementation of the large scale development projects in Saudi Arabia.
Thamer A. Jan, General Manager of Commercial Banking at Saudi British Bank, gave a lengthy presentation about the Saudi economy and the potential for developing partnerships with Saudi businesses. Basil M. Al-Ghalayini, CEO of BMG Financial Group, focused on the major business opportunities available in infrastructure projects and the investment opportunities in the housing sector. The great potential of Saudi women in the workforce was also highlighted and the British business community was introduced to a more positive picture of exceptional Saudi women who are seeking international partners and are keen to promote better trade relations and achieve global prosperity.
The large turnout at the Opportunity Arabia 9 event in London is an indication that the negative campaign orchestrated against Islam and Saudi Arabia will not succeed. Islamophobia and the defamation of Muslims will not make the Kingdom less significant and it will not affect the importance of its political position as the center of the Muslim world and the largest oil producing country. In the midst of unfortunate East and West turmoil, the continued support for initiatives like Opportunity Arabia 9 by the political and economic establishment can further strengthen bilateral relations and create better appreciation for differing points of view.
The Committee for International Trade is dedicated to promoting better trade relations and to creating better understanding between Saudi Arabia and the global community.
— Samar Fatany is a radio broadcaster and writer. She can be reached at [email protected]


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