Tuesday, February 26, 2008


JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (February 26,2008) — The second day of the 9th Jeddah Economic Forum kicked off with an electrifying first session that included three absorbing speeches delivered by a self-critical Saudi Prince Turki Al-Faisal, former Saudi Ambassador to Great Britain and the United States, a confident Dr Haris Silajdzic, a member of the Bosnian Presidency, and a highly articulate Dr Salam Fayyad, the Prime Minister of Palestine. Bosnian Presidency member Dr Haris Silajdzic, speaking in fluent Arabic, recalled the sacrifices that Bosnians made in their march to freedom and said that the oppressors were devoid of any feelings in their hearts and carried out attacks not for any financial gain but on account of an ideology that was highly exclusive.

“The aggressors’ hearts were empty,” he said. Silajdzic also appealed to the Saudi business community to invest in Bosnia because it is a shining example of universal tolerance.

The Palestinian Prime Minister Dr Salam Fayyad said that despite all promises made at the Annapolis Conference, the Palestinians were still suffering at the hands of the Israelis and checkpoints still remain in place, making life miserable for Palestinians. He acknowledged the help from various donors but said a lot needed to be done on the political front for people to feel a tangible difference in their lives.

Meanwhile, the Saudi Prince Turki Al-Faisal admitted, in retrospect, he may have failed to provide his children and grandchildren with a better world rather than the one he inherited.

The three were deliberating on the theme of “From the ‘House’ to the World,” a reference to the Holy Kaaba in Makkah.

In his speech, Bosnian Presidency member Dr Haris Silajdzic,who began by thanking the Saudi Arabian citizens and leadership for continuously supporting Bosnia financially and emotionally,outlined that there is a need to overcome conflicts between civilizations.

He emphasized that Bosnia is a role model that must be followed by other countries for there to be coexistence.

“The Bosnians, through their authentic culture and principles, have learned how to coexist with others and offer them support and protection. Our country is not just a piece of land somewhere in Europe. It is a symbol and model of success and failure as well... we paid and are still paying the price of keeping these principles,” Silajdzic said.

“The world today needs models and examples such as Bosnia. In this era of globalization, the world resembles Bosnia,” he said, adding that dialogue is important and is the only way for globalization.

“I am standing here near the sacred lands of the Two Holy Mosques and the Kaaba. New culture and principles started from Makkah. In the Holy Qur’an, Allah says, He made mankind ‘to meet and know each other,’” he said, adding that this is the concept of globalization today. Silajdzic said that Bosnia is not usually cited as an example to learn from and that only its negativities are mentioned.

Meanwhile, the Saudi Prince Turki Al-Faisal said he blames himself for lacking in political development and social misgivings. “I say to you, ladies and gentlemen, that my generation has failed to meet these challenges that face us all. I hope that my children and my grandchildren will succeed in leaving behind them a better world for their children,” he said.

He further stressed that those who do not learn from their mistakes are bound to make them again. “From the theme of this forum ‘Value Creation Through Partnership and Alliances,’ we have to operate within a global society. Let’s not be afraid of committing mistakes, but learn from them,” he said. “The emphasis is on education, education and education.”

The Saudi Prince Turki Al-Faisal, quoting Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah during the recent Islamic Summit, called for Muslims to work together to alleviate poverty. “We should work together to alleviate the poverty of our fellow human beings. We also should improve education as means of alleviating poverty,” he added.

Highlighting the historical importance of Saudi Arabia as being “the cross roads and center of commerce of the world” the Saudi Prince said that the Saudi economic horizons could no longer be limited by national horizons. “As a member of the World Trade Organization, Saudi Arabia is now truly open for business,” he said.

“We must generate an understanding that the only way for us to continue to improve our condition is to reach out to those around us,” he added.

During the panel discussion on how communities build their alliances, Nahed Taher, founder and chief executive officer of Gulf One Investment Bank, expressed her concerns about the misunderstanding of alliances. She raised the issue of people coming to the Kingdom thinking of it as an investment pocket and how it is creating a big funding gap.

The Saudi Prince Turki Al-Faisal agreed with Taher’s comment.

“You’re right. We have to bring people to work with us and invest in our economy,” he said. “It’s not simply a matter of us having wallets full of cash.

The world is different now thanks to young people, especially in Saudi Arabia, who are engaged in entrepreneurship and providing services to other people.” Prince Turki said that Saudi Arabia no longer relies on oil and that there are other alternatives that are taking over. If an American, European or Japanese investor is seeking cash, he’ll be surprised what his Saudi counterpart asks of him.

“Those who seek to steal money from Saudi, will find it to be a much more difficult place,” he said.

From February 23 to 26, Bosnia was presented at the economic forum held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.A business forum and bilateral meetings were organized by the Bosnian External Trade Chamber in cooperation with the Bosnian Presidency and the Bosnian Foreign Investment and Promotion Agency (FIPA) and in coordination with Trade Chamber of Saudi Arabia and Trade Chamber of Jeddah as a host.

At this business forum, Bosnia was represented by a memner of the Bosnian Presidency Haris Silajdzic and more information on business ambience and investments possibilities was given by the Bosnian External Chamber Head Milan Lovric and FIPA Director Haris Basic.

The main goal of this visit of the Bosnian delegation to Saudi Arabia was to see all possibilities of placing their products on Saudi market and to offer concrete investment projects.

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