2nd edition 2014, February-March

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Chamber News and recent Activities

5th Arab-Belgian Diplomatic Business Workshop

5 February 2014


“Invest in your business partners, and investment is possible in any Arab country”

As every year the ABLCC takes the occasion to invite the ambassadors accredited in Arab countries to inform the Belgian business community of the situation and possible business opportunities in the Arab world. Accompanied by their Arab counterparts, the ambassadors were able to give a good insight.

“On the contrary of what many people may think, business relations between Belgium and the Arab countries are still very fruitful”, underlines Mr. Qaisar Hijazin, Secretary-General of the ABLCC in his introduction. Statistics show that the trade volume between Belgium and Arab countries keeps growing; sometimes where you might not expect it.

“I’d say the moment to start doing business in Libya is now, and do not wait.”

Libya, for example, could be a great partner for Belgium says H.E. Mr. Andy Detaille, Ambassador of Libya. “Libya is one of the great economic promises of Africa. There is a great lack of infrastructure due to 42 years of deliberate mismanagement, but that’s also a great opportunity for Belgian enterprises. Libya’s welcoming foreign expertise to build schools, hospitals... Libya is the second sunniest country in Africa, and also has the potential for wind energy resources, so Libya must profit from environmental challenges.”

“Isn’t Libya a security risk then? Yes, it is. But if you really invest in your business partners, investment stays possible in any Arab country. There’s a huge pressure from society upon the government to finally start spending the oil money it has, so I’d say the moment to start doing business in Libya is now, and do not wait.”

“Egyptian tourism doesn’t profit from its location next to two different seas”

Another so-called difficult market nowadays is Egypt. “On the contrary one would say, Egypt is not too chaotic, but is on a roadmap towards democracy. Besides all turmoil, the government is still working – look at the Suez Canal! – and providing stimulus packages for the economy”, says H.E. Mr. Gilles Heyvaert, Belgian Ambassador to Egypt.

“Belgian economic ties with Egypt are more than good, our export to Egypt even grow 30 to 40 percent in the last years, notwithstanding the internal difficulties Egypt has. And there are certain sectors in which it would be worth a look to invest. Tourism, for example, has never reached its limits in Egypt. It doesn’t profit from the fact it lies next to two different seas.”

“The best thing to do is working as subcontractors: taking your first steps in business projects via others. There are many examples of projects where Belgian enterprises have already profited or can profit from this situation in the future. Look at Belgian companies like Besix or Orascom, and the knowledge they bring together with their Belgian partners.”

“If I drive through the port of Antwerp, I see a great part of the oil will be Iraqi oil”

It doesn’t need to be said, but Iraq faces tremendous challenges in the near future, says H.E. Mr. Thomas Baekelandt, Ambassador to Iraq and Jordan. “Iraq can use its unique oil-gas economy to recover. But therein lays also a grave danger: not only buildings need to be reconstructed but also the institutions, which creates an ideal opportunity for lots of corruption. And besides that you’ve got a well-performing Kurdistan in the North that doesn’t want order from such a government.”

So is Iraq a difficult market? “Statistics say something else. The trade volume between Belgium and Iraq has grown significantly the last few years. But that doesn’t show all, because one would think it’s only exports to Iraq. But if I drive through the port of Antwerp, I see how much oil there is. A great part of it will be Iraqi oil”, concluded ambassador Baekelandt.

Briefing of the Belgian Economic Mission to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia & the Sultanate of Oman

27 February 2014

image008Fltr: Mr. Ghassan Ejjeh (ABLCC), H.E. Mr. Abdulrahman Suleiman Alahmed (Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the Kingdom of Belgium), HRH Princess Astrid, Mr. Qaisar Hijazin (ABLCC)

In the framework of the Belgian Economic Mission to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Sultanate of Oman, the Belgian Foreign Trade Agency, with the collaboration of the regional agencies for the promotion of foreign trade and investment (AWEX, Brussels Invest & Export, FIT), have organized, in the premises of BNP Paribas Fortis Bank, a Briefing session in presence of HRH Princess Astrid, the Ambassadors of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Sultanate of Oman, and Belgian participants to the Mission.

After the welcome words by Mr. Yvan De Cock, Mr. Marc Bogaerts, Director General of the Belgian Foreign Trade Agency, and the representatives of AWEX, Brussels Invest & Export, FIT, introduced the programme of the Mission.

Afterwards, Mr. Ghassan Ejjeh, Member of the Bureau and the Board of the Arab-Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce, presented a testimonial covering more than 40 years of experience in Arab Gulf countries. Mr. Ejjeh highlighted the remarkable advance made by these countries as well as the positive evolution of their relationship with Belgium at all levels.

What is more, Mr. Ejjeh strongly encouraged Belgian companies to take full advantage of the label “made in Belgium” which stands for high quality.

To bring to a close the seminar, the participants had the opportunity to establish contacts during a networking cocktail.

Belgian Economic Mission to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Sultanate of Oman

14-21 March 2014

image009Fltr: Engr. Abdullah S. Al-Mobty (CSC), Mr. Johan Beerlandt (ABLCC), Mr. Thierry Willemarck (Beci)

The Belgian Economic Mission to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Sultanate of Oman was a real success. This multi-sectoral economic mission, presided over by HRH Princess Astrid, representative of His Majesty the King, gathered just about 350 participants representing government entities as well as executives of about 170 companies, 50 of whom were business women.

Signing ceremony

On Sunday 16 March, in presence of HRH Princess Astrid, Saudi Arabia and Belgium signed 15 agreements in the fields of infrastructure, Sciences, health, transportation, energy, engineering, and information and communication technology.

One of the agreements signed involved the Council of Saudi Chambers, the Arab-Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce, and the Brussels Chamber of Commerce and Industry. This cooperation agreement, which gives emphasis to the importance of economic exchange, aims at stimulating cooperation between enterprises of both countries.

Honorary distinction

On Sunday 16 March in the afternoon, HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal was honored “Grand Officer of the Order of Leopold” by Princess Astrid on behalf of King Philippe.

image010Fltr: HRH Princess Astrid, Engr. Abdullah S. Al-Mobty (CSC), HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal

Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal expressed his gratitude to HRH King Philippe for the honour conferred on him and referred to the flourishing bilateral economic relations between Saudi Arabia and Belgium. Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal also paid tribute to the collaboration between Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation, Global and the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer, in which HRH Princess Astrid is the Honorary President.

From Riyadh to Jubail

On Monday 17 March in the morning, the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce & Industry welcomed the Belgian delegation. On that occasion, the Chamber organized bilateral meetings, two workshops, as well as B2B contacts with members of the delegations and their Saudi counterparts.

In the afternoon, the Belgian delegation headed to Jubail, first industrial city in Saudi Arabia, to celebrate the Grand Opening of the Katoen Natie Khonaini Logistics Terminal.

To end the day, they visited SOLVAY group which is building one of the world's largest hydrogen peroxide (HP) plants in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.


On Wednesday 18 March, HRH Princess Astrid, the Ministers and the Business delegation traveled to Jeddah in order to attend the Opening of the Saudi - Belgian Business Forum organized in cooperation with Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

In the Afternoon, BESIX, the largest Belgian group operating in construction, concessions and property development sectors, presented its activities in Saudi Arabia. One of these being one of the most beautiful project in the region: the construction of King Abdullah Sports City.

Afterwards, the Delegation attended the Seminar “Saudi-Belgian Collaboration in health: improving quality of care: methodology and prevention” organized by HEALTHCARE BELGIUM, followed by the signing of the extension on Optima Collaboration Agreement between King Abdulaziz University Hospital and HEALTHCARE BELGIUM.

Finally, to end this eventful day, a cooperation agreement between the Belgian company MITHRA PHARMACEUTICALS and Saudi JAMJOOM Medical Industries was signed in the presence of HRH Princess Astrid and the Ministers.

Sultanate of Oman

On the last two days, the Belgian delegation headed to the Sultanate of Oman in order to attend the Omani-Belgian Business Forum, organized in collaboration with the Oman Chamber of Commerce, followed by roundtables on healthcare, water, and energy & environment.

On Tuesday 20 March, HRH Princess Astrid, HE Ahmed Mohammed Al Futaisi, Minister of Transport and Minister Reynders visited Duqm. On that occasion, the first stone of Port of Duqm, a 50/50 joint venture between the Port of Antwerp and the Government of Oman, were laid. A 28 year contract now binds the two Ports together.

In a nutshell, the Belgian Economic Mission to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Sultanate of Oman paved the way for the negotiation and the signing of agreements as well as for establishing business connections. This Economic Mission has thus been an opportune event for Belgian and Saudi businessmen and businesswomen. The Arab-Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce wishes to this collaboration wonderful achievements!

In 2012, Belgium has been ranked 19th in terms of trade exchange with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

In 2013, Belgian Exports to Oman are mounted to 187million Euros and Belgian imports from Oman are mounted to 82 million Euros.

The World Bank’s Ease of doing Business report 2014 ranks the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 26th among the world’s easiest places to conduct a business

Since the last business delegation’s visit to Saudi Arabia in 2009, exports have grown by 50%

Seminar: Business Opportunities and company establishment in Ras Al Khaimah (United Arab Emirates)

Brussels – 27 March 2014


image013H.E. Sulaiman Hamid Almazrroui presenting the UAE to the participants

The “Business opportunities & Company establishment in Ras Al Khaimah UAE” seminar, jointly organized by the United Arab Emirates Embassy in Belgium and the Arab-Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with the Rak free Trade Zone Authority, has been a successful event.

The main purpose of this seminar was to get to know more as well as to explore the various possibilities of investment in the United Arab Emirates and more particularly in the Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone. It aimed at providing accurate information to all the participants.

After a welcome note of Mr. Qaisar Hijazin, Secretary of General of ABLCC, H.E. Sulaiman Hamid Almazrroui, Ambassador of the UAE to the Kingdom of Belgium and the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg - Head of Mission to the European Union, took the floor and provided a complete picture of the UAE.

image014Fltr: Mr. Qaisar Hijazin (ABLCC), Mr. Peter Fort (RAK Free Trade Zone), H.E. Sulaiman Hamid Almazrroui (Ambassador of the UAE to the Kingdom of Belgium and the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg), Mr. Nordine Hadi (Handaco), Mrs. Joyce Choukri (RAK Free Trade Zone)

The oil sector represents 30% of UAE economy while the non-oil sector constitutes 70% of it.

More than 7000 companies from 106 countries are established in Ras Al Khaimah.

More than 83 Belgian companies are established in RAK free trade zone.

Afterwards, Mr. Peter Fort, Chief Executive Officer of RAK Free Trade Zone, presented Ras al Khaimah along with the multiple business opportunities and advantages it offers.

Mrs. Joyce Choukri, Business Development Specialist for RAK Free Trade Zone, provided the participants with all necessary practical information to set up a business in Ras al Khaimah.

Finally, Mr. Nordine Hadi, Managing Director of Handaco, and Mr. Mark Wauters, Director of Moletti, shared their experience in establishing their companies in the RAK free trade zone. If we had to summarize their experience in 3 words, these would be: smooth, fast, quality.

To bring to a close this interesting seminar, the participants had the opportunity to establish contacts during a buffet-lunch.

Second International Forum for Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions

Luxembourg – 3-4 April 2014


On 3rd – 4th April 2014, the General Council for Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions (CIBAFI), in cooperation with the Arab-Belgian-Luxemburg Chamber of Commerce, organized the Second International Forum for Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions under the theme “Islamic Finance in Europe: learn from previous experiences”.

As pointed out by Mr. Abdelilah Belatik, Secretary General of the General Council for Islamic Banks and financial Institutions, “undoubtedly, Islamic finance has become a substantial part of the international financial system and was, certainly, one of its most expeditious growing components over the last decades.”

Mr. Qaisar Hijazin, Secretary General of the Arab-Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce, seized the opportunity to express his warmest thanks to the general council for Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions (CIBAFI), Luxembourg for Finance, the sponsors, the speakers, and all participants. He underlined that Islamic finance is a valuable economic asset for our countries and for the European Union in general.

The Forum gathered senior financial sector leaders, market players, and experts from international financial institutions and proved an excellent opportunity to get first hand information on Islamic finance as well as to share experiences and practices from traditional markets.

The Forum was divided into five different sessions:

The First session “success stories in Islamic Finance” was the opportunity to hear about the successful stories of North Africa, Europe, Gulf countries, and South East Asia.

The second session established the legal, regulatory and institutional framework in order to organize a strong Islamic Financial services industry.

The third session entitled “Islamic Finance and its prospects in Europe” explored the prospects for some important components of Islamic Financial services industry such as Islamic Banking Services, and Islamic Financial Instruments (Sukuk) as a funding tool.

The fourth session focused attention on the opportunities and challenges related to the Takaful part of Islamic Financial services industry.

The fifth and last session brought the forum to an end with a panel discussion on the way forward for Islamic finance in Europe from various perspectives.

On that account, essential factors were thus combined throughout the forum to contribute to its success.

This Second International Forum for Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions was thus the opportune moment to get accurate knowledge on Islamic Finance but also to forge working relationships and to engage into key business partnerships.

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