4th December, 2014
Upwards of 350 delegates attended the GCC-British Economic Forum organised by the Arab British Chamber of Commerce on 4 December 2014 at London’s premiere Landmark Hotel.
The day-long high level conference was formally opened by HRH The Duke of York who commended the opportunity provided by the occasion to strengthen GCC-British relations.
HRH The Duke of York was formally introduced by Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean, the Chairman of the Arab-British Chamber of Commerce, who stressed the potential for deeper cooperation between the UK and the GCC.
Keynote speaker, HE Dr Abdul Latif bin Rashid Al Zayani, Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council, addressed key challenges and opportunities facing the UK and the Gulf countries.
Mr Tobias Ellwood MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, (Middle East and North Africa), praised the mutual benefits of strong partnership between the UK and the Gulf States.
Dr Afnan Al-Shuaiby, ABCC Secretary General & CEO, presented certificates of appreciation to HE Dr Al Zayani and Mr Ellwood.
The conference programme addressed key themes of mutual interest in four different sessions each of which saw leading experts present their unique perspectives on the issues.
The first session dealt with areas of cooperation on sustainable energy policy and was moderated by Mr Shahid Malik MP, a former British government minister.
Mr Mounir Bouaziz, Vice President, Shell Upstream International Commercial, MENA-NBD & LNG, outlined his company’s policy towards gas and development of new technologies.
Dr Khalid K Al-Hajri, Chairman & CEO, Qatar Solar Technologies (QSTec), spoke of the expanding solar and renewable energy industry in Qatar and how this was key to new projects under construction for the 2022 World Cup.
Mr Peter Madden, Executive Vice President MAC Amec Foster Wheeler, stressed the rising demand for energy and the policy options of industry and governments.
Dr Prem Mahi, Group Practice Manager- Power, Mott MacDonald, presented case studies of successful solar projects in Abu Dhabi and Jordan where Mott MacDonald had been involved.
The second session, focusing on infrastructure and the scope for bilateral partnerships, was chaired by Mr Mike Shears, UKTI specialist in the infrastructure sector whose own background was in the UK railways industry.
First speaker, HRH Prince Saud K Al Faisal, Deputy Governor for Investment Affairs Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), stressed the vital need for regional integration in infrastructure projects in areas such as rail, electricity and water.
HH Sayyid Faisal bin Turki Al Said, Director General for Marketing and Media, Ithraa, Oman, emphasised how Oman was working to diversify its economy from dependence on oil.
Mr Richard Fraser-Smith, European Finance Director, CH2M Hill, described how his company had been active in the engineering sector in the Mideast since 1976 and key projects in the UK such as the 2012 Olympics.
Mr Chris Andreou, Head of Strategy, Heathrow, discussed potential partnerships between the leading London airport and the GCC.
Mr David Leam, Director of Infrastructure, London First, addressed investor opportunities in the UK capital.
The third session on the topic of Changing Climate of Investment in the Global Economy was chaired by Sir Stephen Wright KCMG, Senior Advisor G3. The session was focused on the innovative financial services needed to raise capital for ambitious projects in the Gulf and the UK.
Dr Florence Eid-Oakden, CEO & Chief Economist, Arabia Monitor, discussed the importance of introducing business planning among Arab students.
Mr Issam Z Al Tawari, Chairman, Rasameel Structured Finance, looked at the growth of Islamic finance in the Gulf and globally.
Mr Abdulrahman Rashed Al Rashed, Chairman, Rashed Abdul Rahman Al Rashed & Sons Group, outlined the expansion of the financial sector in Saudi Arabia.
Mr Iqbal Khan, CEO, Fajr Capital, considered the new factors that were reshaping the financial sector, like new technology and internet banking.
The fourth and final session on The Impact of Tax Regulations was chaired by Professor Abdel-ilah Bennis, CEO, Regent Global Solutions.
HE Sheikh Nasser Almutawa Alotaibi, Co-Chairman, Saudi British Business Council, discussed the different experiences of taxation in the UK and the Gulf taxes and how the two could learn from each other.
Jim Harra, Director General for Business Tax, HM Revenue and Customs, outlined the taxation system in the UK.
Mr Zubair Patel, Tax Partner, KPMG (Kuwait), cleared up some misunderstandings about the nature of the tax system in the GCC.
Mr David F Saleh, Partner, Clifford Chance, offered advice to Gulf companies seeking to invest in the UK market.
Each panel concluded with question and answer sessions. The conference also offered an opportunity to engage in valuable networking. A Gala Dinner concluded the whole event.Back To 2014 Gallery