One banner, Three events
The Arab-Hellenic Chamber convened its flagship event, the 11th Arab-Hellenic Economic Forum, on 25th & 26th October 2022 at the Divani Caravel Hotel in Athens, Greece, incorporating the 2nd Greece & GCC Countries Business Gathering, and the 4th Meet the Arab Ambassadors Roundtable Discussion. This event has witnessed wider participation of over 250 businessmen from 18 Arab countries and 122 representatives of Greek companies.
At the opening ceremony, the event was introduced by Rashad Mabger, the Secretary General of the Arab-Hellenic Chamber (AHC), followed by keynote addresses by Harris Geronikolas, President, AHC, and President of City Unity College, and Suheil Hassib Sabbagh, Vice President, AHC, and President, Group HR, CCC. Then followed the Guests of Honor, H.E. Ahed Sweidat, Dean of the Council of Arab Ambassadors & Ambassador of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and H.E. Christos Dimas, Deputy Minister of Development and Investments, Greece. Both emphasized on the existing friendly relations between Greece and the Arab world and the potential for closer and stronger cooperation in the areas of investment and trade.
The opening ceremony was followed by the signing of two MoUs, the first between SABO S.A. represented by its President, Dimitris Kiliaris, and two Iraqi companies, Ard Al Manasek & Al Qabas, represented by the President of the Group, Abdullah Salih Ali Al-Giburi, to establish, as of January 2023, the first brick factory using the Greek technology and know-how in Baghdad. The second MoU was signed between City Unity College, represented by its President, Harris Geronikolas, and the American University of Malta, represented by its President, Michel Najjar, for starting a joint venture in the education field.
Then the works of the 2nd “Greece and the GCC Countries” Business Gathering started with the first session on the GCC countries’ national economic visions and the opportunities offered in these Arab countries regarding investments. Moderated by Prof. Dr. Khaled Hanafy, Secretary General, Union of Arab Chambers, Lebanon & Board Member, AHC, the speakers, Ioannis Smyrlis, Secretary General of International Economic Relations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Chairman of Enterprise Greece, Abdallah Sultan Al Owais, Chairman of Sharjah Chamber & Vice Chairman of Emirates Chambers, UAE, Eng. Omar A. Bahlaiwa, Founder & President, Optimum Business Consulting Bureau (OBCB), Saudi Arabia, Prof. Dr. Haris Lambropoulos, President, Hellenic Development Bank of Investments SA & Board Member, AHC, Greece, and Jalal Abdul Karim AL Lawati, Investment Promotion Director, Public Authority for Special Economic Zones and Free Zones (OPAZ), Oman, showcased the enormous potential for the Greek side to participate in the projects of these economic visions and cooperate in related fields.
The second session of the GCC business gathering focused on the experiences and opportunities offered between the two sides in the food-processing industry. The moderator, Ioulia Drossinou, Head of Department of International Affairs, Directorate of Agricultural Policy, Documentation & International Affairs, Ministry of Rural Development & Food, Greece, introduced the speakers, Prof. Dr. Ahmed Eltigani Abdelrahim Ahmed Elmansouri, CEO, Al Rawabi Dairy Co. LLC, UAE, Antonis Rokakis, President, Chania Chamber of Commerce & Industry and Managing Director, “Crete Fish”/Rokakis S.A., Greece, Sandros Charalampopoulos, New Business Development, Mediterra S.A._mastihashop, Greece and George Fasoulas, Managing Director, KRIVEK S.A., Greece, who focused on the potential of cooperation in the food sector, with particular emphasis on Greece’s positive strides in the food processing industry and the issues of transferring of know-how.
Then the main Forum’s first session started on Tourism and Real Estate investment. Fotis S. Kokotos, Managing Director, Elounda Real Estate Development, Founder of SpaTech Ltd and B.D. member, Elounda S.A. Hotels & Resorts, Greece, moderated the discussion between Olympia Anastasopoulou, Secretary General for Tourism Policy & Development, Ministry of Tourism, Greece, Hassane Alaoui Mostefi, Minister Plenipotentiary, Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco, Greece and Dr. Nejia Ben Helal, President, Tunisian Business Women League (UNFT) & Project Development & Entrepreneurship Advisor, Tunisia, each of whom presented their home countries’ readiness to engage into more in-depth cooperation with their counterparts in the tourism investment sector. With this session, the Forum closed its works for the first day.
On the morning of Wednesday, October 26th, Abdulaziz Al-Mikhlafi, Coordinator General of Arab-Foreign Joint Chambers & Secretary General, Arab-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GHORFA), Germany, delivered the welcoming address of the day, followed by Aref Boualwan, Chief Initiatives and Startups Officer, Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC), Greece, who presented his company’s initiative to include startups on the road to innovation in its construction methodology.
The Forum’s second session, on electricity and alternative sources of energy, started with a special introduction by an international sustainability and water management expert, Dr. Ghassan Ejjeh, Senior Vice-President, BESIX Group & BESIX SANOTEC S.A. and international expert in water management issues, Belgium. Then, CEng. Ilias Savvakis, Director of Operational Development, DEDA S.A. & Board Member, AHC, introduced the speakers and moderated the discussion between Dr. Khalid Klefeekh Al Hajri, Energy Expert and Board Member, Qatar Chamber of Commerce, Qatar, John Karydas, CEO, Renewables & Energy Storage, Copelouzos Group, Greece, Eng. Husein Abdullah Safar, Board Member, National Oil Corporation, Libya, Dr. Dimitris Tsalemis, Director General for Energy, Ministry of Environment & Energy, Greece, Eng. Omar A. Bahlaiwa, Founder & President, Optimum Business Consulting Bureau (OBCB), Saudi Arabia, Dr. Spyros I. Kiartzis, Manager New Technologies & Alternative Energy Sources, HELLENiQ ENERGY Group, Greece and Evangelos Kamaris, International Business Development Director (Sustainable Engineering Solutions Business Unit), Mytilineos Holdings, Greece, all representing major Greek companies and Arab entities, as well as the Greek Government’s resolutions towards a greener future.
After a short break, the third session started on Architecture, Construction, and Building Material. A special guest coming from the United Kingdom, Prof. Paul Greenhalgh, Director of ZAHA HADID Foundation, gave a comprehensive overview of the Foundation’s scope of operation and its ambition to further promote the legacy of the late Zaha Hadid, Iraqi – British world-renowned architect. Then, Nicholas Vlachakis, Managing Director, NEOKEM S.A. & Vice-President, AHC, moderated the panel which included important personalities in the likes of Eng. Khalid Al-Othman, Partner & CEO, Saudi Mubadara Development Company, Saudi Arabia, Abdullah Salih Ali Al-Giburi, Chairman, Abdullah Al-Giburi Group, Iraq, Alexander Athanasoulas, President & CEO, Stirixis Group, President Sustainable Building Council Greece (SBC), Greece, Eng. Walid Abdulla Barakat, CEO-Founder, Invicta Company for Design & Construction, Yemen, and Nikolaos Stratigeas, President & Managing Director, Anaplasi Consulting Engineering S.A., Greece, all of whom gave an overview of the construction sector in a wider scope in Greece and the Arab world.
Then started the Forum’s fourth session on the pharmaceutical industry. The discussion was chaired and moderated by Dr. Bassim Khoury, CEO, Pharmacare PLC, Palestine among the speakers, Dr. Rafea Al Rawi, CEO, The Modern Company for Drug Industry & CEO, Al-Andalus Private Hospital, Iraq, Costas Babalis, General Manager, Generics & International Division, Vianex S.A., Greece, Dr. Hanan Sboul, Secretary General, The Jordanian Association of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers (JAPM), Jordan and John Lachance, Business Development & Training Manager, Frezyderm S.A., Greece, all of whom presented the pharmaceutical sector in their respective countries and the opportunities for cooperation with the two sides.
The third event, the 4th Roundtable Discussion “Meet the Arab Ambassadors” was convened in three parts. The first, moderated by Rashad Mabger, Secretary General, AHC, included as speakers Their Excellencies Ahed Sweidat, Ambassador of Jordan, Sulaiman Hamid Almazroui, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates, Mouayed Saleh, Ambassador of Iraq, and Waleed Bin Mohammed Al-Emadi, Ambassador of Qatar.
The second part was moderated by Dr. Saleh Jallad, Publisher of Middle East Economic Survey (MEES) & Board Member of AHC, Greece, and included as speakers Their Excellencies Mahieddine Djeffal, Ambassador of Algeria, Omar Amer Youssef, Ambassador of Egypt, and Mansour Saad Sulaiman Ahmad Alolaimi, Ambassador of Kuwait.
Prior to the third part, Walid Moussa, Founding President of FIABCI Arabic Countries & President, Real Estate Syndicate of Lebanon (REAL), Lebanon, delivered a brief speech on the potential of real estate investment in Greece and the Arab world. Then, Dipl.-Ing Mouddar Khouja, Secretary General, Austro-Arab Chamber of Commerce, Austria, moderated the third part, introducing Yussef Dorkhom, Chargé d ’Affaires, Embassy of Palestine, Firas Al Rashidi, Chargé d ‘Affaires, Embassy of Syria, and Rime Mrimi, Economic Affairs Attaché, Embassy of Morocco. All Ambassadors and Chargés d’Affaires discussed their countries’ opportunities for cooperation with Greece and received questions from the audience.
The program was concluded with the official dinner in honour of the Arab business delegations who participated in our Forum in search of more partnerships with their Greek counterparts. The program was further highlighted by honouring the staff members of the Arab-Hellenic Chamber, with special recognition and appreciation to Vania Foundoulaki, for her long devotion and impeccable services to the Chamber for more than four decades. This was followed by Cretan dancing, and elegant tastes by the hotel and Arab chefs accompanied by the exquisite melodies of classical music.
The Arab-Hellenic Chamber once again has managed to attract wider than ever participation from the two sides and successfully created the atmosphere for interactive deliberations, discussions, and business meetings, contributing further to the enhancement of Arab-Greek relations in every business domain.
We would like to seize this opportunity to thank the organizations which granted their auspices to our 11th Arab-Hellenic Economic Forum, the Qatar and Kuwait Chambers for their special contribution and all the sponsors, member-companies, to whom we are deeply indebted for their support.