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Monday, May 7, 2012

Qatari businessmen seek level-playing field in Saudi

Visiting Saudi businessmen at a meeting with their Qatari counterparts at the Doha Sheraton yesterday. The  meeting was organised by QCCI.
DOHA: A joint Qatar-Saudi business council yesterday decided to explore possibilities of setting up partnerships in three major sectors to collectively benefit from the mega projects that are to be launched for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The areas identified by the private sectors from the two neighboring states for possible joint ventures include services and contracting, trade and industry as well as real estate and banking.
The Qatar-Saudi Joint Business Council working under the aegis of the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry (QCCI), representative body of Qatar’s private sector, set up three committees to conduct studies in the above three areas for possible joint ventures between Qatari and Saudi companies.
A 50-member trade delegation from Saudi Arabia is here and its members had a meeting with their Qatari counterparts at the Doha Sheraton yesterday.
Qatari businessmen rued at the meet that while it is easier for Saudi companies to enter the Qatari market and do business, Qatari companies looking to enter Saudi Arabia face a lot of difficulties. “We, therefore, need a level-playing field. We must be given an equal opportunity,” said prominent Qatari businessman, Sherida Al Kaabi.
QCCI chairman, Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim Al Thani, who was presiding over the joint Qatar-Saudi meet, joining Al Kaabi, said there are 131 Saudi companies operating in Qatar and they enjoy 100 percent ownership.
There are, though, 229 Saudi firms that have joint ventures with Qatari companies and are operating locally, he added.
Taking part in what was a friendly debate, Saudi businessman Ahmed Assaneh noted that the investment of Qatar’s private sector in Saudi Arabia was to the tune of QR5bn. He said the Saudi market is an open one, so some Qatari companies are also thriving there.
Al Kaabi rued that giant Saudi companies like Aramco do not award contracts to Qatari companies. In response, Assaneh said that in the petroleum sector companies always preferred local players and this was the case worldwide.
The head of the visiting mission, Abdul Rahman Al Atishan, lamented that despite Qatar and Saudi Arabia being close neighbours and strong business partners their mutual trade volume had declined in 2010 over the previous year. The trade exchange was worth QR7.8bn in 2009 and declined marginally to QR6.8bn in 2010, he said. Both sides stressed the need to boost their trade ties.
The Peninsula