Report: 1st Saudi-German Forum for Sustainable Business

Saudi Arabia on its Way to Transformation


On October 20th, 2016, numerous experts from Saudi Arabia and Germany followed the invitation of the EMA and the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to gather at the Binnenalster in the Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten to participate in the 1st Saudi-German Forum For Sustainable Business together to provide new impulses for German-Saudi co-operation.

With the words "Saudi Arabia would like to change", EMA President Christian Wulff, Former President of the Federal Republic of Germany, summed up the current course of Saudi Arabia in his opening speech. In this sense, the Vision 2030, recently published by the Kingdom, was the focus of the event. Through this newly-introduced strategy, the second-most important trading partner of Germany in the Arab world formulates ambitious goals, setting on its way towards "a vibrant society, a flourishing economy and an ambitious nation".

As Lina Almaeena, founder of the Jeddah United Sports Union, stated at the beginning of her speech, "a vision without an action plan is merely a daydream". The aim of the economic forum was therefore to show how German-Saudi economic cooperation can help to create and implement a sustainable and viable action plan that promotes the diversification of the Saudi economy and strengthens the private sector - so that Vision 2030 is more than just a daydream.

© EMA 2016    


The Saudi-Hamburg Connection

Cornelia Prüfer-Storcks, Senator for Health and Consumer Protection of the Free and Hanseatic Hamburg, stressed the fact that Hamburg as a logistics and healthcare metropolis, which maintains close relations with Saudi Arabia, is an excellent place to discuss these topics: "Saudi Arabia is one of Hamburg's most important Arab trade partners. Nearly 300 Hamburg-based companies are active in Saudi Arabia and nearly 50 Hamburg-based companies are active on the ground."

The Kingdom is already in the midst of the transformation process - the best practice examples presented during the forum being excellent proof thereof. For example, Rayan Qutub, CEO of the Industrial Valley in the King Abdullah Economic City, emphasized how the modernization of Saudi Arabia, in particular the King Abdullah Port, has helped to create a new, central logistical hub on the Red Sea, making use of the strategic location of the Kingdom between three continents.

The King Abdullah Economic City award as "Best Industrial Logistics Mega Project Developer 2016" by CapitalFinance International, which took place within the framework of the Economic Forum, showing that this is a future-oriented project.

© EMA 2016      

Modernization and Room for Development

Lina Almaeena talked about how she founded a sports club, with which she succeeded at offering women an extensive range of sports. While 10 years ago, women's sports were still a taboo in Saudi Arabia, the Ministry of Health is now one of the most important partners of their initiative.

It has also become clear how there is still a long way to go before Saudi Arabia to reach its ambitious goals. In a personal keynote, Dr. Hayat Sindi, Member of the Saudi Arabia Consultative Assembly and founder of i2institute, emphasized the important role of education and science in the modernization and establishment of new social structures.

Another recurring topic was how German know-how and innovation can contribute to the successful transformation of Saudi Arabia. "Germany has a lot to offer," said Oliver Oehms from AHK Saudi Arabia. "We can learn a lot from Germany," said Dr. Basma Al-Buhairan, Managing Director of the Healthcare and Life Sciences Division of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), who emphasized the benefits of the German health care system. "Made in Germany" is a quality promise that also pulls in the kingdom at the Arabian Gulf. This was underlined by the comments of Markus Warmholz, Director Corporate Legal, at the Hartmann Group, which has been active in Saudi Arabia since the 1970s.

© EMA 2016    

Overall, the Forum made clear that Saudi Arabia offers enormous opportunities for German businesses, which are waiting to be seized. The example of Prof. Dr. Grambow, Managing Director of RITZ Instrument Transformers GmbH, who presented his project projects in Saudi Arabia during his speech at the evening reception and called for entrepreneurial responsibility, shows that German medium-sized companies have recognized these opportunities. The numerous B2B discussions suggest that the entrepreneurial curiosity of the other participants was also aroused.

Like Saudi Arabia, the EMA also recognizes the potential of small and medium-sized enterprises. In this sense, the EMA is excited to be preparing for a delegation trip with the President of the EMA, Former Federal President Christian Wulff and an entrepreneurial delegation to the successes of this forum from 28 January to 1 February 2017 in Riyadh and Jeddah.

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