9th edition of the seminar « Doing Business with Arab Countries »

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Doing Business with Arab Countries SGS 2018

Belgian companies are motivated to expand their business activities in the Arab world

On 02 October 2018, many Belgian companies gathered in Antwerp in the offices of SGS to share business practices with a fine selection of Arab and Belgian experts, chambers of commerce, enterprises and diplomats. Yes, the Arab world is confronted with a lot of challenges but is still fully recognized as a rewarding environment for investments in the global economy.

Mr. Qaisar HIJAZIN, Secretary-General of the Arab Belgian Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce (ABLCC), was proud to welcome numerous big and small companies from very different economic sectors, and representatives from Arab embassies present in Brussels, the capital of Europe. He was glad to see that Belgian companies are really motivated to take part to this yearly tradition called “Doing Business with Arab Countries : Theory and Practice”.

Mr. Yahya Elwathik BELLAH, Minister Plenipotentiary - Commercial Office at the Embassy of Egypt, gave an overview of the multiple economic reforms realized by the Egyptian government. Doing business in Egypt is now easier than in the past, as confirmed by different international and financial institutions. The construction of a new capital 15km from Cairo, the activities around the Suez Canal, the creation of economic zones and the revision and simplification of the economic legislation creates numerous opportunities for companies.

And what about the Gulf ? Mr. Houssam Nasrawin, CEO of investment and advisory firm GDC partners, is active in the region from his office in Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates - UAE). The countries in this part of the Arab world are investing in new economic sectors now that the price of oil continues its downward trend. Belgian and Luxembourg companies active in finance, distribution, infrastructure, tourism, etc. are advised to keep this in mind. But don’t think you will automatically be successful in the Gulf because you are great in Belgium, Luxembourg or Europe : being well prepared for meetings with your Arab counterparts and really knowing the country and sectors you have in mind is essential.

Doing buiness with arab countries 2018

If you export products to Saudi-Arabia, the biggest country in the Gulf, you have to be aware of the legislation when it comes to conformity of your products. Thanks to a conference-call broadcasted during the seminar, Eng. Wajih Bin Muhamad MUNSHI from SASO (Saudi Standards, Metrology and Quality Organisation) explained the ins and outs of the requirements.

Mr. Jozef SOMERS, Operation Manager of SGS (a partner of ABLCC, active in inspection, verification, testing and certification) explained the services his company can deliver along with the Web-based Innovations made by SGS.

Time for discussion and debate

Mrs. Evelien Staelens, Area Manager Middle East & North Africa at FIT (Flanders Investment & Trade) moderated a debate with three Belgian companies successful in the various Arab countries. Mrs. Monique LEMPEREUR (Continental Carbon – industrial rubber and carbon), Mr. Hendrik VAN PASSEL (Medic Clean Air – medical devices) and Mr. Malik BOUKEBBOUS (DEME – dredging, infra marine solutions, etc.) talked about their experiences in the Arab world. They do agree that doing business in Arab countries is very fascinating. They will continue to work in the region and are motivated to expand their businesses overseas. And yes, they advise other Belgian companies not to forget this region of the world so close to Europe. But, of course, as a Belgian and Luxembourg company you have to understand the cultural differences between Europe and the MENA-region (Middle East and North Africa) and do your homework. Be well prepared before starting negotiation with Arab governments and enterprises.

Before joining an excellent buffet, the companies present at the seminar in Antwerp had the opportunity to join workshops with Mr. BELLAH (Embassy of Egypt) and Mr. NASRAWIN (GDC Partners). This was an excellent opportunity for our Belgian friends to obtain more detailed answers to their specific questions about doing business in Egypt and in the 6 Gulf countries. Much appreciated.

Do not hesitate to contact the ABLCC if you would like to receive the PowerPoint presentations of this successful Antwerp seminar.

The Arab Belgian Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce (ABLCC) in Brussels continues to inform and support companies from the Flemish, Brussels and Walloon region with their business plans for all the Arab countries. If you have any questions about exporting to an Arab country, don’t hesitate to send us an email via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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