(MENAFN - Arab News) The Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) is playing a major role in the economic growth of the city and the Kingdom, says Muhiddeen Hikami, assistant director general of the organization.
In an interview with Nadim Hamid of Arab News, he outlines how the JCCI is helping the city become an attractive place to live and do business.
Here are excerpts from the interview.
Has the chamber been able to reduce the number of fake and counterfeit documents?
The chamber has 64,000 members. We monitor instances of document forgery through the department of subscriptions and authentication. Legal action is taken against forgers, by turning these cases over to the police and other security agencies.
Our aim is to protect businesses from fraud and swindling. We verify and check the authenticity of documents presented to the chamber.
The chamber does not stamp important documents, like purchase agreements, unless the seller is present in person. We take special care to verify documents translated from other languages into Arabic, especially financial instruments.
What are the most important services that the chamber offers to its members in general, and the subscriptions department in particular?
We are going electronic. We are utilizing modern technology to upgrade many electronic services, and have considerably improved the quality of our services and activities.
We have a long-term plan to provide value-added services. We wish to become a model organization that promotes positive change within the private and public sectors, in a way that enhances their constructive partnership.
Our objective is to be the main engine for economic development and the promotion of business in Jeddah. We seek to achieve our strategic objectives by raising the level of satisfaction among our members, and improving the business environment through creative initiatives.
This year we asked our prime members to move to the electronic authentication of their documents, so that they can have them authenticated day or night, during or outside working hours, and inside the Kingdom or abroad.
How does the business section of the chamber help business people overcome various hurdles and barriers?
The role of the section is to oversee the interests of members and subscribers and to offer more value-added services. We aim to make Jeddah a favorable destination for business people, and we work with all the parties concerned to upgrade the living conditions in Jeddah, so that it can become a better place to live and conduct business.
What role do the various JCCI committees play in carrying out and implementing the recommendations taken by the sectoral committees?
We have around 900 people sitting in 60 sectoral committees. These committees, which serve all business sectors, issue thousands of recommendations. Last year we issued 1,278 recommendations, of which 1,010 were implemented. We are still working on 268 recommendations, and for this we held 563 meetings during the year.
The main emphasis of the sectoral committees is to spot and address the hurdles and barriers that stand in the face of the various business and industrial activities.
We offer many forums, conferences, workshops and activities to upgrade the business sector and help implement Saudization and localization programs. We conduct surveys to determine the priorities for services and spot the challenges to the business environment.
We receive much support from senior officials. Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal laid the cornerstone for building the third industrial park.
He also ordered that an additional area of 20 million square meters be annexed to the second and third industrial parks. The combined area of the two parks stands now at 48 million square meters. This amounts to five times the area of the first industrial park.
Is the JCCI expecting visits in the near future from Arab or foreign delegates?
We see these visits as a means to broaden active partnerships between Saudi and foreign business people.
We exchange ideas and hold various activities with members of business sectors in these countries. We receive Arab and foreign delegates almost on a daily basis. We receive hundreds of delegates every year.
I would like to say that on March 16 we will hold a very big three-day event, the 13th Jeddah Economic Forum.
It is a huge economic event that is widely respected and highly regarded all over the world. The forum will discuss the subject of housing, a crucial matter for all countries in the world. Many policy and decision makers will attend the forum from various parts of the world.
How is the JCCI contributing to national economic development?
We have been working hand in hand with national development initiatives right from the start. We made major contributions that helped establish the status of our chamber as an active Saudi organization, with the objective of developing the business environment in the various commercial and industrial sectors.
Are there any special services offered by the JCCI relative to the other chambers in the country?
We mostly gather all the information and statistics that pertain to commerce and industry, and we prepare studies and research related to these areas. We provide the government agencies with the necessary and relevant data and information, and generate proposals on the protection of national industry from foreign competition.
We also inform people involved in commerce and industry of the regulations that have a bearing on their work, and we educate them about the prominent countries and areas where they do business. We educate them on how to upgrade their work in commerce and industry.
The chamber also helps parties settle disputes through arbitration if they choose to do so.