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MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) - 07/11/2012

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(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) Speakers at the 7th Economic Forum between Belgium-Luxemburg and Arab Countries Tuesday said there is a real opportunity to expand business activities and investment and trade partnership between the two sides.

Speaking at the opening session, Nabila Al-Mulla, Ambassador of Kuwait and Dean of the Arab Diplomatic Corps in Belgium said the "future of the Arab world, the Gulf region and Belgium and Luxembourg for being partners is very bright." "We would like to partake from your technologies as you will partake from our development projects" she told the forum attended by businessmen, financers, bankers and energy experts from the Arab world and Europe.

"We would like to cooperate together," she said noting that Belgium has extensive technology expertise in the renewable energy sector.

Al-Mulla noted that in the past referring to renewables caused jitters in the oil-producing countries" but as time went by we see the rationality and sensitivity to the renewals because they are cleaner and the way for the future." Kuwait is to spend USD 70 million in 2013 to meet energy challenges for the future she said and noted that energy from electricity is advancing by six percent in her country and has the potential to reach to 10 percent.

Johan Beerlandt, Chairman of the Arab-Belgium-Luxemburg Chamber of Commerce (ABLCC) which organized the event, noted that the theme of this forum "New Business Environment in the Arab countries" is very relevant as many countries in the Arab world are undergoing profound changes on the economic, social and economic level.

He said that already several Arab countries are taking the forefront in development of renewable energy sectors.

Beerlandt cited the example of Kuwait which is planning the launch an ambitious project that will enable it to generate 10 percent of its electricity needs from sustainable sources by 2020.

He called for the forging of "a strong and mutual beneficial partnership between Belgium and Luxembourg, as an important center of Islamic finance, and the Arab world." Despite the economic slowdown, he noted, Belgian- Arab trade statistics reflect improving trade relations.

Belgium exports to Arab countries have risen by 24 percent during the first half of 2012 compared to the same period in 2011.

Alain Verschueren, from the BNP Paribas Fortis bank group said the Arab countries have clearly recovered from the financial crisis that hit the region three years ago.

He said the young population in the Arab world present tremendous opportunity both as market and as a labor force. He noted that BNP Paribas has branches in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and in the UAE and said it can contribute to development of local economies and assist clients in their projects.

Qaisar Hijazin, Secretary General of the ABLCC said the Forum has become an annual event to contribute to the enhancement of economic relations between Belgium, Luxembourg and Arab countries.

"This forum aims to open new horizons for economic cooperation between the two parties and examine options available for Belgian and Luxembourg companies to participate in development projects in the Arab world," he said.
Jean-Claude Meyer, from the Embassy of Luxembourg in Brussels, said the Gulf States are seen as emerging markets like the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).

He said Luxembourg has developed many economic and financial links with the Arab countries and that the potential for developing further trade relations is still very big and should be grasped.

The Forum focused on three topics, the need for renewable energy in the Arab world, secondly infrastructure investment in the Arab world and thirdly public and private trade financing in the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Abdullah Al Ghatani, consultant at the King Abdullah City for atomic and renewable energy in Saudi Arabia, spoke about the projects being undertaken in Saudi Arabia in the field of renewables.

Dr Khalid Al Hajri, chairman of Qatar Solar Technologies, spoke about Qatar's transition to solar energy.


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