SIBN organized first business meet for members of Jeddah chapter with fervor
Date 15-Nov-2020 Time 09:45 AM
Saudi, Indian business priorities are aligned, asserts Indian ambassador
Abdul Rahman M. Baig / Al Bilad English
JEDDAH – Saudi Arabia and India are well on course to be strategic business partners for decades as key sectors prioritized by the Kingdom are perfectly aligned with India’s economic priorities, the top Indian diplomat in the Kingdom said here recently.
Saudi Arabia’s stress on business sectors is in complete sync with India’s priorities in the bilateral relations and different sectoral groupings within the Saudi–Indian Business Network (SIBN), he said.
Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, ambassador of India to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, was addressing a business meeting of the Jeddah chapter of Saudi-Indian Business Network (SIBN) at Hotel Ritz-Carlton here recently. The event was organized by the Consulate General of India.
The SIBN is a professional organization that brings together entrepreneurs, senior executives and professionals from Saudi Arabia and India. It was launched in 2005 as SIBN-Jeddah and was later expanded to cover the entire Kingdom and was rechristened SIBN-KSA in September this year.
The ambassador, who was earlier consul general of India in Jeddah, said since he has taken over as an ambassador, relations between India and Saudi Arabia have been growing stronger. “If we recall or trace our history, our relations date back to the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him), Indians used to visit this place for Umrah, Hajj and trade, etc. Our spices and many other things were exported here. Our relations in several fields, especially education and health, are historic, specifically with the Hejaz region,” the ambassador said.
Immediately after the independence in 1947, Saudi Arabia was the first country with which India has established full diplomatic relations, the ambassador recalled. This, he said, was followed by the historic visit of King Saud to India in 1955 followed by the visit of the first prime minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru to Saudi Arabia in 1956.
After a gap of 26 years, the visit of late Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to Saudi Arabia in 1982 was another milestone in our relations. A significant turning point in relations came when King Abdullah visited India in 2006 and was the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi.
“The relations turned more stronger when our current Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Saudi Arabia in 2016 followed by the visit of the Saudi Crown Prince to India in February 2019. Prime Minister Modi again visited Saudi Arabia in October 2019; this particular visit was extremely significant for both the countries as they signed an agreement on strategic partnership. India thus became the third country to become a strategic partner of Saudi Arabia after the United Kingdom and China. It literally means that it is the highest bilateral mechanism between the two countries,” the ambassador said.
Prime Minister Modi has also extended full support to Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, he said.
The ambassador said Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 offers new opportunities to enhance engagements between Indian and Saudi business communities.
He said he had fruitful discussions with Sheikh Mohammed Yousuf Naghi, chairman of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “I am happy to know that the sectors prioritized by the Kingdom are similar to India’s economic priorities in different sectoral groupings within SIBN purview,” Dr. Sayeed said.
Earlier, Y. K. Sabir, acting consul general, and consul Hajj, welcomed the participants and threw light on the scope and goals of SIBN. He said Abdullah Al-Kassabi has been president of SIBN since 2017 when it was limited to Jeddah only. Now with the expansion of SIBN, he has been re-appointed as the SIBN chief for Saudi Arabia. He is also the co-founder of the Saudi Massara company.
The acting consul general said the Indian consulate has been receiving great support from him Al-Kassabi and several commercial activities were organized recently with SIBN. He also said that Mazen Batterjee, president of SIBN Jeddah chapter, has been playing a key role for the organization since its inception in 2005. Most of the members of the chapter have business links with India and Saudi Arabia and have promoted trade between the two countries some way or other by interacting with business communities on both sides.
Abdullah Al-Kassabi, thanked the ambassador for having trust in him and appointing him as the president of the SIBN for Saudi Arabia. He said Saudi-India Business Network aims to be the nodal point for high-level interaction between business communities of India and Saudi Arabia. “It aims to act as an informal interface to promote trade and commerce, business alliances, joint ventures and investments between India and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on a bilateral basis,” he said.
The SIBN aims to introduce Indian companies to the vast opportunities that exist in the Kingdom and to aid them in projecting their expertise and strengths in various disciplines for prospective alliances with business and trade organizations operating in Saudi Arabia. It also aims to provide a reciprocal interface for business and trade organizations established in Saudi Arabia to explore business opportunities in India. In short, SIBN aims to play a catalytic role in exploiting the vast potential that exists between the two countries. “I will try my best to bring SIBN to higher stages and ensure that bilateral relations between India and Saudi Arabia grow stronger, he said.
Mazen Batterjee, President of SIBN Jeddah chapter, traced his association with the SIBN since 2005. “It was the brainchild of Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, the then consul general of India and present ambassador. He has revamped it now to become SIBN-KSA. The revamped and restructured SIBN was formally launched by Dr. Sayeed virtually in September 2020 due to the global CoVID-19 pandemic.
Khaled Almaeena, Chairman, Al Bilad Organization for Press and Publication, former editor-in-chief of Arab News and Saudi Gazette, managing partner Quartz Studio and a renowned political analyst, was the guest of honor at the event.
Other notable media personalities in attendance were Siraj Wahab, Ram Narayan Iyer, Mahmoud Alwadi, Amir Hilabi, and Maher Abdul Rahman.
All the sectoral heads of different committees of SIBN’s Jeddah chapter presented their brief presentations and spoke about their respective sectors giving in-depth information showcasing trade opportunities in individual sectors.
The members of the SIBN Jeddah chapter have been divided into several sectoral committees which include automobiles, construction, and mining, education, entertainment, media and marketing, fashion, textiles, decor, finance, food and beverages, information technology, logistics, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, energy, travel and tourism.
Earlier, the ambassador also addressed a selected group of journalists from major newspapers and magazines. He said India has introduced an e-visa system and several types of tourism packages for Saudis which will again make bilateral relations between the two countries stronger. This is in line with the memorandum of understanding signed between India and Saudi Arabia during Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Riyadh in the last quarter of 2019.
Ritu Yadav, SIBN chief coordinating officer (Riyadh chapter) and second secretary, commerce at the Indian Embassy, Riyadh also addressed the gathering. This was her first visit to Jeddah and she seems to fell in love and was impressed with the wonderful hospitality here. “It truly represents the historical, cultural, and commercial relationships between India and Saudi Arabia,” she said.
Proposing a vote of thanks, Hamna Maryam Khan, consul (commerce, press, information and culture) and SIBN chief coordinating officer (Jeddah chapter), said the mission of the revamped SIBN is very futuristic. “We welcome all the new and innovative ideas in SIBN through our members. Your ideas are the driving force of the new SIBN as it will boost investments at the higher levels between the two countries. Our ambassador is also our constant inspiration,” she said.
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