A trade mission from Makkah, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, visited the Chamber on 8th April and were welcomed by the Rt Hon Baroness Symons, Chairman of the ABCC, and Mr Abdeslam El-Idrissi, ABCC Deputy CEO and Secretary General.
The delegation of around forty company executives and officials from Makkah Chamber of Commerce represented a wide spectrum of industries including construction and real estate, education and training, healthcare, the food industry, hotels, hospitality, ICT and law.
Their trade mission to London was to meet potential investors and business partners from the UK with a view to deepening the collaboration between Britain and the KSA.
The delegation was headed by Mr Hisham Kaaki, Chairman, Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Welcoming the visiting delegation and opening the session, Mr El-Idrissi described the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a key supporter of the work of the ABCC and the Chamber was privileged to work with its Saudi counterparts.
The Rt Hon Baroness Symons, chairing the meeting, presented greetings from the ABCC’s new CEO, Mr Bandar Reda, who was in Saudi Arabia. She looked forward to greater cooperation with the KSA and urged members of the Makkah delegation to attend the forthcoming Arab British Economic Summit which would provide an important platform for Arab-British engagement.
Mr Kaaki wished Mr Reda success in his appointment and looked forward to working more closely with the ABCC in future. The Makkah Chamber official described the delegation as an opportunity to meet UK business people and develop relations.
In an exhaustive schedule, members of the Makkah delegation had already held a series of business meetings in London during their trade mission prior to attending the event hosted by the ABCC.
The Makkah Chairman highlighted the major economic activities of the region including those directly and indirectly connected to the Holy City and the need to provide services for the large number of visitors taking part in the Haj. The region needed new tourism infrastructure to accommodate the increasing number of visitors and this was creating a wide range of opportunities for business.
Local officials in Makkah were determined to improve the quality of the services available to visitors and for the two million strong local population by launching a series of strategic initiatives covering sectors such as hospitality, real estate, retail, housing, education and healthcare.
Mr Kaaki pointed out the changes in the Saudi labour market including the rising number of women in the workforce. He stressed the importance of the partnership of the UK with the KSA and the levels of trade and investment. Much of the UK’s £12.5 billion investment in the KSA was concentrated in the industrial sector.
Mr Kaaki urged British companies to take advantage of the new opportunities emerging under the Saudi Vision 2030. The Kingdom was working to harness the efforts of business and investors to successfully fulfil the aims of Vision 2030 and he expressed the hope of broadening the horizons in the trade with the UK.
In his presentation, Mr El-Idrissi stressed that more work needed to be done to make UK companies aware of the potential of doing business in the Arab World and the KSA in particular. Explaining the role of the ABCC, he focused on the services available to Saudi businesses seeking to enter the UK market or succeed in working with British partners.
ABCC offered various services tailored to meet the needs of Saudi business people consisting of assistance with investors’ visas; UK property searches; concierge services; business visa support letters; assistance with UK company formation; research and translation services.
The ABCC could also offer international trade training courses in collaboration with the UK’s Institute of Export, as well as cultural training courses customised to meet individual business requirements, and a new MBA in conjunction with Chester University would soon be launched.
Finally, the ABCC Mayfair premises were ideal for holding business events and offered a range of venue hire options for events of various scale. In conclusion, Mr El-Idrissi urged Makkah delegation members to sign up to attend the ABCC’s July Economic Summit.
Mr Chris Innes-Hopkins, Executive Director, Saudi British Joint Business Council, explained what his organisation was doing to advance UK-KSA trade relations by working closely with SAGIA, the Department for International Trade and British chambers of commerce and in cooperation with the ABCC.
The opening contributions were followed by a series of presentations by British and UK-based companies representing various key sectors such as IT, computer technology, renewable energy, construction and engineering who were working in the KSA or preparing to work in the market.
Companies, with products and services of interest to Makkah, making presentations, were Honeywell Building Solutions; Alium Medical Ltd; Rider Levett Bucknall; Ricardo Energy & Environment; Big Innovation Centre; Newtecnic; SAVORTEX, Geotourist Ltd; PK2M & Consilience Ventures; and Movement Intelligence.
The event concluded with one-to-one meetings and discussions between the Saudi executives and their UK counterparts to explore future collaboration.