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Newsletter October 2010


The 3rd Arab-Greek Economic Forum

Mohamed Elkhazmi, Secretary General, Arab Hellenic Chamber of Commerce & Development, discussed the recent Arab-Greek Economic Forum and its impact on trade and investment between Greece and the Arab world.

Tell us about the 3rd Arab-Greek Economic Forum held in Athens September 23-25, 2010.

The Arab-Greek Economic Forum (AGEF) is a major business event organised by the Arab Hellenic Chamber of Commerce & Development. The idea was initiated in 2005 and executed for the first time in 2006, followed by the 2nd Forum in 2008 and this year witnessed the 3rd. The 3rd AGEF was particularly meaningful in the light of the fact that the Arab Hellenic Chamber is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.

The Forum has reached an unparallel status in a short time and attracts a truly elite group of speakers as well as high level delegates from the Arab world and Greece.

Given today’s global economic turmoil and the difficult time that Greece is going through, such major forum is more than ever needed to shed light on the tremendous business and investment opportunities in both Greece and the Arab world.

The Forum this year promoted the theme: “Fostering Business Alliances to Tap Emerging Opportunities.” We endeavored to explore this theme and capitalise on the historical and friendly ties between Greece and the Arab world.

The Arab countries that participated in this major event are:  Morocco, Algeria,Tunisia , Libya, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Sudan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia , UAE, Bahrain, Yemen & Djibouti.

The Forum attracted a large number of participants. Is there positive feedback from the delegates?

The attendees of the Forum exceeded 500 participants and about 200 were from the Arab World, including 7 ministries and 2 deputy ministers. Moreover, Heads of Investment organizations from Syrian, Tunisia and Libya attended as well as Heads of Chambers of Commerce & Federations from Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia & Sudan.

We had a large amount of positive feed back from our participants, especially regarding the B2B meetings, which were organised parallel with the Forum, with more than 500 B2B meetings taking place, not only at the event but also outside the venue and in the days before and after the event. As a result of these B2B meetings we are sure to have business partnerships evolve and we are planning to announce some of these projects, on our website, when they are finalised. In addition, the Athens Chamber of Commerce & Industry has signed a cooperation agreement with Amman Chamber of Commerce on the sidelines of the Forum and we expect another agreement between the Athens Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Casablanca Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

What were some of the key messages that emerged from the Forum?

Their main message during the Forum is that the Arab World has very traditional, close, and friendly ties with Greece and they attended to emphasise these relations, develop more cooperation and create joint investment projects and increase trade between the two sides. Trade can definitely increase. Also the Arab officials expressed their support to Greece and to the Greek people in this difficult time that the country is going through.

Who are some of the delegates who attended the Forum?

Many high-level Arab political figures attended: from Lebanon Minister of Economy Mr. Mohamed Al Safadi; Minister of State and President of the General Union of Arab Chambers of Commerce, Industry & Agriculture Mr. Adnan Kassar;  Minister of Tourism Mr. Fadi Aboud; from UAE Minister of Economy Mr. Sultan Al Mansouri; from Libya Minister of Utilities Eng. Matouq Mohamed Matouq; from Syria Minister of Electricity Eng. Ahmed Kayali and the Deputy Minister of Electricity; from Palestine Minister of National Economy Dr. Hassan Abu Libdeh; from Egypt 1st Undersecretary of the Ministry of Trade & Industry Mr. Mamdouh Mustafa.

In what ways did networking opportunities advance the objectives of the Forum?

The Arab Greek Business Village (a parallel Exhibition event) was fully booked with over 23 stands from Greece and the Arab Countries, which offered direct opportunities for companies and participants to interact. Also we had some cultural touches during the Forum where we hosted the famous Greek Cretan Metal work Artist Mr. Kostis Dolapsis, who exhibited his work.

During the Gala Dinner, the Arab Hellenic Chamber offered, with the cooperation of the Moroccan Ambassador in Greece, traditional Moroccan Green Tea prepared in full Moroccan style which was very well received and demonstrated Arab hospitality and introduced some Arabian culture at this business event.

The Arab Hellenic Chamber of Commerce & Development initiated the idea to award leading Arab leading personalities who have contributed to Arab-Greek relations. This year we had the honor to award Mr. Said Khoury, Chairman & President of Consolidated Contractors Company, known as CCC, for his pioneering contributions to Greek Arab Relations. This Award was presented in the presence of H.E. Minster Adnan Kassar, a very close friend of Mr. Said Khoury and H.E. Theodoros Pangalos, Vice President of the Hellenic Republic.