Revamped Saudi-India Business Network relaunched in Kingdom
Date 13-Sep-2020 Time 12:00 PM
Indian envoy, Al Kassab brainstorming session results in an expanded SIBN role
Saudi Gazette report
RIYADH — A revamped Saudi–India Business Network (SIBN), extending Kingdomwide, was launched on Saturday, in a virtual launching ceremony held by the Indian Embassy and chaired by the SIBN Patron Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, Ambassador of India to Saudi Arabia, who also inaugurated and dedicated the network’s website — http://sibnksa.com/.
“Over the years, the India-Saudi Arabia bilateral relationship has evolved into a Strategic Partnership, which is hinged on historic people-to-people engagement, strong trade ties, and alignment of our countries in sharing a bilateral, regional and global view that can bring prosperity to our nations,” Dr. Sayeed said in his speech during the relaunch of the network.
“I feel this is, perhaps, the most opportune time for the business fraternities to capitalize on the numerous emerging opportunities in both our countries and support the vision of the two great leaders — Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman. Hence, a need was felt to broaden the canvas of SIBN to expand from Jeddah to the entire Kingdom with separate chapters in Riyadh, Dammam, and Jeddah under a central organization.
“I am grateful to (SIBN) President Abdullah Al Kassabi for brainstorming with me a few months ago and sharing his vision for a larger role that the SIBN can play in the context of our rapidly expanding bilateral economic partnership. And, I express my deep sense of gratitude to Khaled Al Aboodi, Hassan Qahtani and Mazen Batterjee for agreeing to lead the Riyadh, Dammam, and Jeddah Chapters respectively as presidents,” Dr. Sayeed said, while revealing the experienced Saudi business leaders to lead the chapters while also elaborating on the need for the extended SIBN to act as a connector in the deepening ties between the two countries.
In his address, he said, since the Indo-Saudi bilateral relations have witnessed an upward trajectory in recent times in almost all spheres, it is very important and timely that the business leaders of both countries work closely under an institutionalized mechanism to further this relationship. The newly-proposed SIBN will have chapters based in Riyadh, Dammam and Jeddah with a National Executive Committee and chapter-wise committees, the envoy said, adding that the countrywide expansion of the SIBN organization was effected after the successful Jeddah model that conducted several activities by the business communities of both countries.
He said SIBN would be made up of prominent Indian businessmen and professionals based in the Kingdom and their Saudi counterparts engaged with India. The Ambassador elucidated that the organization aims to provide a platform for the promotion of trade and commerce in different sectors and encourage two-way investments. He stressed SIBN would act as an interface to apprise Indian companies of the vast opportunities being offered in the Kingdom and the same to the Saudi business community in India.
The Ambassador, with long time experience of having worked in Saudi Arabia, explained that the expansion of the network was a necessity and long overdue as the economic relations between the two friendly nations have grown multifold and the bilateral commercial activities have spread across the Kingdom. He stated that SIBN was born 15 and half years ago on March 13, 2005, in Jeddah under the patronage of the (then) Ambassador with the motto of ‘Partnership towards Prosperity’ and with the overall objective of providing support to businessmen of our two countries and giving a thrust to India-Saudi bilateral trade and economic relations.
In these 15 years, we have seen SIBN grow and render remarkable service in identifying new business opportunities, organizing B2B meetings and other trade promotion events, and extending critical support to incoming and outgoing trade delegations. Several eminent Saudi business leaders served as presidents of SIBN starting from Abdul Khaliq Saeed, Amr Hassan Enany, Dr. Ghazi Faisal Binzagr, Mazen Batterjee, Musaab Al Muhaidib, and the current President Abdullah Al Kassabi, the envoy added.
Dr. Sayeed said, “When I reflect upon my long association with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during the past 25 years starting from 1995 in three different periods and at least four different capacities, the thing that comes out vividly is the cherished memories of my close affiliation and friendship with several business leaders and professionals all these years and my passion for commercial work.”
He then introduced the SIBN office-bearers and then called on the network’s president and the chapter presidents to give a brief insight on the way forward for the kingdomwide network.
SIBN President Abdullah M. Kassabi, CEO, Al Musheera Group, thanked the Ambassador for taking forth the network to a pan-Saudi level. He emphasized that existence of this unique platform will facilitate collaboration among the business entities of the both the countries and thus help in pushing the bilateral economic relations.
“It is an honor to be here today. I discussed with the Ambassador about SIBN (future) and we agreed that a strong push for a collaboration in both business communities in both countries was needed, and I feel (with the new SIBN) it’ll become a reality soon with an increase in collaboration not only in business but also in culture and it will become noticeable in both countries. I am looking forward to the future, and I’ll ask all professionals living in Saudi(Arabia) and India to join their efforts in this network and make the vision come true,” he said.
The President of the regional chapter of SIBN in Riyadh Khaled Al Aboodi, a prominent economist with 35 years of work experience with government, multilateral development finance institutions, and private sector, congratulated the Embassy for making SIBN’s launching ceremony a success while adapting to the COVID situation.
“I am really honored to be part of this network. It is important to recognize that the potential relationship between the two countries far exceeds the current level. It is encouraging to see that both countries are working to explore the opportunities, to take this relationship higher. I look forward to working closely with the business community in Riyadh to look for business opportunity for Saudi companies in India and vice versa for Indian companies in Saudi Arabia,” Al Aboodi said.
Mazen Batterjee, chairman, Batterjee Holding Company, who will now lead the regional chapter of SIBN in Jeddah shared his experience of being connected with SIBN since 2006. He agreed with the Ambassador regarding the importance of the network’s expansion while adding that it will provide much needed support to the business people of Saudi and India throughout the country.
“First of all I am honored to be in this group. Dr. Ausaf began this network in Jeddah and we have been part of many trips to India and part of many delegations to India and have benefited (from those interactions). The MoUs have allowed for shifting many of the Indian experiences here and also private businesses have set up cooperation with many companies in various sectors. I hope the relations between the two nations grows with all three centers working to boost business ties,” he said.
The SIBN Dammam chapter President Hassan Al Qahtani, founder and CEO of AWJ Energy, highlighted the significance of including Dammam as a regional chapter as the Eastern Province is a major hub of industrial activities. He said, “I’m proud to be a part of this new effort and along with the Saudi Vision 2030 we see that India is a source of great collaboration. There’s no doubt that Saudi Arabia has been using lot of Indian experience and this vision of the revamped SIBN and the expanded team we’ll be able to push the limit in a short time because we have all the ingredients for the recipe of success. I have been to India many times and I see the determination in the Indians to bring the out best every time, and this will help.”
The program also included introductory speeches by office bearers of the regional committees. The members of the network also thanked the Ambassador for taking the initiative and providing an excellent platform for collaboration. The event was attended by more than 200 people, which included prominent business people, representatives of authorities, and chambers of commerce from both the countries.
The Ambassador complimented the two young and energetic commercial officers — Ms. Ritu Yadav in Riyadh and Ms. Hamna Maryam Khan in Jeddah — for their extraordinary efforts in the expansion of SIBN. He also called on all in SIBN to work toward making this business partnership strong and lasting so that it could emerge as a model of cooperation for the rest of the region.
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