Russian Business week was held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, within the framework of the 11 Session of the Jeddah Economic Forum (JEF) between March 17– 22, 2011. The event was jointly organized by the Moscow-based Russian-Arab Business Council and the “Arabia-EXPO” LLC with great assistance and support fr om the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Embassy and General Consulate of Russia in Saudi Arabia and a number of high-profile institutions.
The schedule of the Russian business week which aimed at the promotion of Russian companies and finding new partnership opportunities included an exposition of Russian products and services, a new round of the Business Dialogue “Russia and the Arab World” business forum, and a number of official and informal meetings. Russian delegation, consisting of more than 70 representatives from different regions of Russia arrived to introduce their business and look for partners and business opportunities. The Republic of Bashkortostan, the largest Muslim region of Russia, was represented by a huge exhibition stand depicting the region and its investment potential, and the region’s delegation was headed by its head of administration, President Rustem Khamitov.
Russian delegates took part in a reception in the General Consulate of Russia in Jeddah wh ere they met H.E. Oleg Ozerov, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation in Saudi Arabia, and H.E.Sergey Kuznetsov, Consul General of Russia in Jeddah. The reception was dedicated to the discussion of economic climate in Saudi Arabia and assessment of prospects for Russian businessmen to take part in various projects. The delegates also visited the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority and the Islamic Development Bank, participated in the work of the plenary session and various sections of the Jeddah Economic Forum and had the opportunity to continue the dialoguewith their Saudi colleagues in an informal atmosphere and to see Jeddah’s sights.
The Second round of the Business Dialogue “Russia and the Arab World” was the key event on the agenda. The dialogue was held in the format of a business forum with participation of representatives from different business fields and mass media. Dr. Abdul Aziz Bin Saker , President of the Gulf Countries Research Center, acted as the moderator of the forum. H.E.Rustem Khamitov, President of the Republic of Bashkortostan, Alexander Goncharuk, Chairman of the “Bashneft” JSC, Sergey Popelnyukhov, Director General of the Group of Companies “Zagranstroy” , Tatiana Gvilava, Director of the Russian-Arab Business Council, A.Al-Khudairy ,Representative of the Governor of Makkah Province, and Mazen Batterjee, Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Jeddah, discussed a number of important questions on the bilateral agenda.
The Saudi side welcomed the interest of Russian businessmen to cooperate with their counterparts in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The participants in the event also paid much attentions to the issues of favorable investment climate and the stable political situation in Saudi Arabia and its Makkah province, as well as the decades-long history of cooperation between Russia and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Russian delegation made presentations of their companies, the political and economic situation in Russia in general and also invited investors from the Middle East to participate in some of the joint projects. A film describing the features and opportunities of the Republic of Bashkortostan was presented during the event and aroused great interest among the Arab businessmen attendees. H.E. Rustem Khamitov, the head of the Republic of Bashkortostan, made a speech about his region, as well as about the ongoing efforts to create a favorable environment for foreign investors and entrepreneurs in Russia. The head of Bashkortostan added that even though the Republic is the leading region of Russia in the field of oil refining and chemical production and has opportunities of investment in these industries along with agriculture, it can offer much more – particularly in the field of recreation and health tourism.
Tatiana Gvilava, director of the Russian-Arab Business Council, called in her speech during the business dialogue upon the representatives of business circles to keep being active in the sphere of Russian-Saudi relations. According to her, a number of Russian companies have already opened their offices in Saudi Arabia or are presently going through the registration procedures. This can considered a reference point. Results of the work of these companies and efforts exerted presently to increase bilateral trade will become apparent in a couple of years. Mrs Gvilava pointed out that the Russian-Arab Business Council remains open for cooperation, joint operation and assistance in entering Arab markets.
During the Russian business-week in Saudi Arabia a memorandum of cooperation was signed by the Chambers of Industry and Commerce of Jeddah and Bashkortostan. The ceremony was attended by H.E. Sergey Kuznetsov, Consul General of the Russian Federation in Jeddah, members of Bashkortostan delegation and representatives of the Russian-Arab Business Council. The agreement was signed by H.E.Mazen Batterjee, vice-president of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce of Jeddah, and H.E.Azat Fazlyev, vice-president of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce of the Republic of Bashkortostan.
The interest of Arab guests and participants of the Jeddah economic forum was also attracted by an exposition of Russian goods and services organized within the framework of the Jeddah Economic Forum. It included stands of the Republic of Bashkortostan, VTB bank, Alternativa Plastic Works, Flora-L fertilizer producer etc. Visitors of the exhibition communicated with the representatives of Russian companies, exchanged contacts, offers and information materials, and had a chance to look through the Moscow-published Arabic newspaper Anba Moscow. Representatives of investment and consulting circles of Saudi Arabia expressed their interest in the products and services of Russian companies and held preliminary negotiations on the perspectives of cooperation.
The work of the Russian delegation during the Jeddah economic forum and the Russian business-week in Saudi Arabia was covered by Russian and Arab media. Daily reports from Jeddah were broadcasted on the Arabic-language Russia Al-Yawm (Russia Today) TV Channel , which was also the key media partner of the event. The English-speaking Saudi newspaper Arab News published a number of articles about the Russian business week in Jeddah.The work of the Russian delegation was summed up on the closing ceremony headed by Vladislav Lutsenko, deputy director of The Russian Arab Business Council and director of the Arabia EXPO exhibitions company. The ceremony was attended by H.E. Sergey Kuznetsov, Consul General of the Russian Federation in Jeddah, H.E. Mazen Batterjee, vice-president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Jeddah, representatives of The Permanent Office of the Russian Federation in The Organization of the Islamic Conference, business circles and media. Mr Lutsenko thanked the participants of the business-week and expressed his hope that the event would significantly contribute to the Russian-Saudi business agenda.