(MENAFN - Arab News) The absence of transparency has caused losses for Saudi investors in Lebanon. This was stated by Saleh Al-Turki, chairman of Nesma Holding Co. and former chairman of Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI), while sharing his business experiences with a group of young entrepreneurs at Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI).
He said he ventured into business from scratch in the early seventies. That was the time he decided to move from the Eastern Region to Jeddah via Riyadh. However, he did not find anything worthwhile for doing business then.
Al-Turki said the dominance of foreign companies at business and investment levels posed serious difficulties for new business entrants. At that time, he recalled, he tried to enter the contracting field only to find that South Korean companies dominated the scene.
But he took up the challenge and decided to set up a contracting company, and sought projects from Saudi Aramco. That is how he started finding a foothold in the contracting industry.
Over the years, Al-Turki finds that the Kingdom's contracting market is strong and attractive, and there are plenty of opportunities in the next 10 years. Jeddah alone has projects worth SR45 billion, he added.
"However, the contracting sector is facing obstacles, one of the major ones being the system of awarding contracts, which has to be amended," he said.
He suggested that Saudi cadres should be formed among the contracting companies in the interest of the industry's growth.
On the Saudi banking sector, Al-Turki said Saudi banks are part of the national economy and played a key role in the process of development. However, they (banks) were reluctant to finance projects belonging to young businessmen. The banks, additionally, are not inclined to give loans to contractors despite the huge deposits they own.
He also called for establishing an official entity to work out and legalize a venture capital scheme for financing projects of young entrepreneurs.
About the Kingdom's chambers of commerce and industry, Al-Turki said their boards of directors should be elected and not nominated as is the practice.
Referring to the Jeddah Economic Forum (JEF) and the Riyadh Economic Forum (REF), Al-Turki said the JEF should focus on local issues and should have been run on the basis of Davos Economic Forum. The REF, on the other hand, was good and competitive and succeeded in forming permanent cadres who preferred to deliberate on local topics concerning businessmen and issued recommendations.