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The Austro-Arab Chamber of Commerce (AACC)
in co-operation with Österreichischer Verband für Elektrotechnik (OVE)
& Österreichischer Ingenieur- und Architekten-Verein (OIAV)
invite to a
with H.E. Dr. Abdulkerim YASEEN AL-SAMMERAI,
Minister of Science and Technology of the Republic of Iraq
Date: Wednesday, 2 May 2012 Mai 2012 | 18:30 – 20:00 hrs
Location: Banquet Hall / Österreichischer Ingenieur- und Architektenverband,
Eschenbachgasse 9, 1010 Wien
♦ Welcome Note
O. Univ. Prof. Dr. Heinz BRANDL, President of the Austrian Society of Engineers and Architects (ÖIAV)
Senator Dr. Richard SCHENZ, President AACC
H.E. Dr. Surood NAJIB, Ambassador of the Republic of Iraq [tbc]
♦ The potential of cooperation between Austria and Iraq in Science and Technology
H.E. Dr. Abdulkerim AL-SAMMERAI, Minister of Science and Technology, Republic of Iraq
♦ Questions and Answers
On the occasion of the visit of the Minister of Science and Technology of the Republic of Iraq the Austro Arab Chamber of Commerce (AACC) is offering Austrian businessmen, interested companies and public the opportunity meet and debate the possibility of an Austro-Iraqi cooperation in the fields of technology, environmental protection, water management in a public panel.
Registration and information:
Kindly register your participation at AACC through e-mail (
) or telephone (+43 1 513 39 65). Participation is free of charge; the event is held in English.
Austro-Arab Chamber of Commerce (AACC), in cooperation with Österreichischer Verband für Elektrotechnik (OVE) and Österreichischer Ingenieur- und Architekten-Verein (OIAV).
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Visit of H.E. BETTAIEB, State Secretary for Investment and
International Cooperation of the Republic of Tunisia
Vienna, 1 - 4 April 2012
H.E. BETTAIEB emphasising important role of women in new Tunisia
From 1st til 4th April 2012 the State Secretary for Investment and International Cooperation in the Republic of Tunisia, H.E. Alaya BETTAIEB, paid an official visit to the Republic of Austria. In the course of his three days stay in Vienna, the State Secretary had several meetings with high-ranking Austrian representatives from different fields.
During his visit, H.E. BETTAIEB also emphasised the important role Tunisian women are playing in the new democratic system in Tunisia.
The Tunisian State Secretary for Investment and International Cooperation was warmly welcomed by Mag. Andreas REICHHARDT, Head of the Department III for Innovation and Telecommunications at the Austrian Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology. Mag. REICHHARDT gave an interesting presentation on renewable energy and its implementation in Austria to the Tunisian delegation.After the presentation, H.E. BETTAIEB uttered that there was a great need for a comprehensive exchange of experiences between Tunisia and Austria in that field and asked for these special technologies to be transferred to Tunisia.
H.E. BETTAIEB also spoke about the political changes which Tunisia is experiencing and the promising economic trends especially in the fields of technological development and the expansion of sustainable projects.
The State Secretary also met with Dr. Rudolf SCHOLTEN, the President of the “Österreichische Kontrollbank AG” (providing financial and information services to the export industry and the capital market). Both, Austrian and Tunisian investors are asked to take advantage of soft loans as soon as possible, in particular now when Tunisia is again able to get loans at reduced interest rates because of the fact that Tunisia’s GDP per capita has exceeded the standard of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) for giving loans at reduced interest rates.
Moreover during his stay in Vienna, the State Secretary for Investment and International Cooperation had meetings with representatives from the Austrian Oil and Gas Company “OMV”, with Dr. Suleiman AL-HERBISH, the Director General of the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), with Dr. Kandeh YUMKELLA, the Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and with many more high-ranking representatives from the Austrian Foreign Ministry and the Federal Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection.
H.E. BETTAIEB also met with KommR. Nabil KUZBARI, the Vice-President of the Austro-Arab Chamber of Commerce (AACC) with whom he talked about possible investments in Tunisia.
60th Anniversary of the General Union of Chambers of Commerce,
Industry and Agriculture for Arab Countries
Beirut, 12 March 2012
General Union of Arab Chambers celebrating 60th anniversary
Under the patronage of the Lebanese President, Mr. Michel SULEIMAN, the General Union of Arab Chambers celebrated its 60th anniversary on the 12th March 2012.
On this occasion the Lebanese President gave a speech under the presence of Prime Minister, Mr. Najib MIKATI, and the spokesman of Parliament, Mr. Nabih BERRI, in which he talked about the great achievements of the General Union including the creating of the so called “Road Map” suggested by the General Union for a joint Arab market.
The Lebanese President praised the steadfastness of the General Union of Arab Chambers in such volatile and crisis-torn times and pointed out to the fact that the General Union of Arab Chambers and the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) managed by Director General, Dr. Kandeh YUMKELLA, signed a Memorandum of Understanding. Thereby cooperation needs to be achieved between both sides in the field of the labour market by creating new jobs for young people in the Arab regions.
It was KommR. Nabil KUZBARI, the AACC’s Vice-President, who suggested the cooperation with UNIDO to the General Union of Arab Chambers. On the 23rd March 2012 the AACC’s Vice-President and Secretary General Eng. Mouddar KHOUJA met with UNIDO’s Director General, Dr. YUMKELLA, in Vienna and explained to him the relevance and importance of the General Union of Arab Chambers and its achievements and services on the regional and global level.
In his speech during the festive ceremony the President of the General Union of Arab Chambers, Mr. Adnan KASSAR, explained that this large institution had been established in order to achieve an Arab integration. Moreover he added that the Arab Customs Union would start its work in 2015 and the Arab Common Market in 2020.
After the meeting the Lebanese Prime Minister, Mr. Najib MIKATI, invited the high-ranking representatives and the members of the General Union of Arab Chambers to a lunch which took place at the office of the Council of Ministers in the capital city Beirut. On this occasion Mr. MIKATI said that the Lebanese government was very much supporting the work of the General Union of Arab Chambers.
AACC participating in Bahrain International Green Tech-Expo & Forum
Manama, 13 - 15 March 2012
Upon invitation by the Chief Chief Middle East & Arab Programme at UNIDO in Vienna, Dr. Azza MORSSY, the Secretary General of the Austro-Arab Chamber of Commerce, Eng. Mouddar KHOUJA, was invited to participate in the International Green Technology Forum in Manama, the capital city of the Kingdom of Bahrain. The forum took place under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad AL KHALIFA (the personal representative of the King of Bahrain) who is the Chairman of the Public Commission for the Protection of Marine Resources, Environment and Wildlife and in cooperation with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) from the 13th to the 15th March 2012.
During the press conference Dr. Kandeh YUMKELLA, the Director General of the UNIDO, emphasised that the Kingdom of Bahrain was the ideal place to create a regional centre for green technology connecting the countries of the Middle East with those of North Africa. In the future this centre ought to support the development of the environmentally sustainable projects and programmes. Moreover Dr. YUMKELLA pointed out that the forum and exhibition were taking place in a time full of new challenges and international developments. This year there will also be a summit in Brazil about the relevance and importance of sustainable development and how to preserve environment and energy resources.
The Bahrain International Green Tech-Expo & Forum consisted of six panels and dealt with a series of issues and subjects related to alternative energy and its implementation, for example renewable and alternative energies. Among the most important topics were the following: energy efficiency, sustainable development, investment and environmental growth, creation of new jobs, waste management, marine resources management in the industrial sector and other issues as for example electricity generation through solar power and the use of green chemistry in the field of bio fuels and pharmaceuticals.
The AACC’s Secretary General, Eng. KHOUJA, participated in the last panel and gave a visual presentation on the promotion of green growth in the Arab countries in cooperation with the European Union. He explained that there was a series of initiatives and projects which the European Union had implemented in the Middle East and which aimed at decreasing the energy needs by 2020.
Eng. KHOUJA also pointed out to the soft loans – loans at reduced rates of interest – which are provided by the European Union for developing countries in the region in order to promote investments in the sector of alternative energy.
Eng. KHOUJA discussing transfer of Austrian technology to Saudi Arabia
Jeddah, 16 March 2012
The Secretary General of the Austro-Arab Chamber of Commerce (AACC), Eng. Mouddar KHOUJA, visited the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry where he met with the Vice-Secretary General of the Chamber, Eng. Mohie Eddin HAKAMI during his stay in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on 17 March 2012.
Both sides discussed about future cooperation and the strengthening of the bilateral relations as well as about the opportunities of increasing investments between the Republic of Austria and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
During this meeting, Eng. KHOUJA explained that the Austrian investors and companies were very much interested in the Saudi Arabian market and its promising investment opportunities above all in the areas of technology transfer and the use of alternative energy.
Moreover the AACC’s Secretary General stressed the fact that the Austro-Arab Chamber of Commerce – based on its role as the connecting link between Austria and all Arab countries – was very much interested in contributing to the strengthening of the economic relations and the increasing of trade and commerce between both sides.
Furthermore he emphasised the important role of Saudi Arabia on the regional and global level especially in the economic and trade sector and explained that the Kingdom was offering very much in order to develop its investment opportunities.
Eng. KHOUJA suggested cooperating with the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry in order to realise a virtual exhibition which ought to be visited by businessmen and companies from both, Austria and Saudi Arabia. Thereby he aimed to present the possible investment opportunities in both countries to the potential cooperation partners.
Following are recent articles about selected Arab countries:
Investing € billions in agriculture towards self-sufficiency
(Global Arab Network) - Investment in agriculture will be a priority for Algeria in 2012 as the state looks to reduce its import dependency, which stretched upwards of €6.8bn last year according to the Algeria Press Service.
While it has not slowed import growth, grain planting is slightly ahead of last season, due partly to favourable weather conditions. The national press reported last month that 2.9m ha have been sown so far in the 2011-12 season. By mid-December, 490,000 ha of land had been fertilised, up from 456,000 ha at the same point last year.
Of all the aspects of improving the country’s food self-sufficiency, boosting local cereal production is particularly important for Algeria, for if it is unable to do so, the country’s exposure to global commodity volatility will remain high. The national cereals consumption is high, estimated at 7m tonnes per year. A bumper harvest in 2009 produced a record 6.1m tonnes, but dropped to 4.5m in 2010 and 4.2m in 2011.
As a result, the country imported record levels of wheat last year, reaching 7.42m tonnes, a y-o-y increase of 41.5%, in an effort to increase stocks following protests over the rising price of basic goods. Higher import levels are continuing into 2012 as Algeria imported 450,000 tonnes of European wheat in the second week of January.
But where wheat is struggling, other segments are growing: the country’s potato cultivation has seen particularly good results in recent years. National output rose for the fourth consecutive year in 2011 to reach 3.8m tonnes, a 19% increase y-o-y. Output has expanded rapidly from 2.2m tonnes in 2008. The head of the Potato Trade Association (Conseil Interprofessionnel de la Pomme de Terre), M Séraoui, stated in the local press that the industry is capable of 20-30% annual growth in the next few years.
Citrus is another key crop for Algeria, although national output is expected to decline slightly to 1.05m tonnes in the 2011-12 season. Of the 32 wilayas (provinces) that produce citrus fruits, seven contribute 80% of the national total. Of these only the Alger and Relizane wilayas recorded a 15% increase in production y-o-y in 2011. Blida, the highest-producing wilaya, which contributes 33% of the national output, saw its production drop from 100,000 tonnes in late 2010 to only 60,200 tonnes in 2011.
However, while current levels have dropped modestly, Algeria’s citrus production has seen steady growth in preceding years. Production rose from 780,000 tonnes in 2008-09 to 850,000 tonnes in 2009-10. The 2010-11 season saw a record production of 1.16m tonnes, a 41% increase y-o-y. Growth in recent years has largely been due to favourable climate conditions, aided by government incentives encouraging producers to replace older, lower-producing trees.
The government is also beginning to open agriculture to foreign investment in an effort to boost sector activity. In September 2011, Algeria offered its first formal invitation for expressions of interest from companies looking to engage in pilot agricultural operations.
The sector also stands to benefit from a state initiative to expand the country’s irrigation systems. Unpredictable rainfall, combined with poor water management, has been a persistent obstacle to the development of agriculture. The government plans to increase the country’s irrigated surface area from 400,000 to 1m ha by 2015.
Cultivation has not been the only area of focus for the government, and Algeria has moved to increase local production of milk, with the long-term goal of replacing powdered milk imports with locally produced raw milk.
Dairy farmers produced 572m litres of raw milk in 2011, a 46.7% increase y-o-y. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development reported to the local press that sector sales reached AD146bn (€1.5bn) in 2011. Output has risen steadily from 290m litres in 2009, and the ministry hopes to see raw milk production reach 700m litres in 2012.
Should the auspicious weather continue, the government should be able to consolidate the gains of recent years in cultivation, which will help improve overall self-sufficiency. However, the country’s import dependency will continue as long as cereal production fails to meet demand and irrigation remains limited. (OBG)
Source: Global Arab Network
Bahrain’s insurance penetration the highest in the GCC
(Global Arab Network) - Benefiting as it does from a respected regulatory environment and rising demand, Bahrain’s insurance industry already performs well among its peers. An increase in infrastructure spending, however, and a renewed government focus on the sector stand to boost its growth even further, Global Arab Network reports according to OBG.
Bahrain’s insurance penetration level, which stands at around 3% and is the highest in the GCC, still leaves room for medium-term growth prospects, a fact highlighted by Abdul Rahman Mohammed Al Baker, the executive director of financial institutions supervision at the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) in February.
Al Baker noted that GCC member states are expected to invest around $960bn in more than 1600 infrastructure projects in the region over the next decade, potentially providing a wealth of opportunities for insurers and reinsurers.
Bahraini insurers in particular should be well placed to benefit after a decade of solid growth. The sector’s gross premium volume has increased steadily over the past 10 years, according to a decennial report published by the CBB in late 2011, rising from BD58.6m ($155m) in total premiums in 2001 at a compound annual growth rate of 15% to BD210.5m ($558m) in 2010.
The director of the MEIF (Middle East Insurance Forum) 2012, David McClean, said that the choice of Manama as the host of the annual event confirmed “Bahrain is still the powerhouse in the regional insurance industry”.
Al Baker said the regional market is developing as the insurance sector in the Gulf evolves, adding that national regulatory bodies such as the CBB will have to work closely with counterparts in other countries and international organisations such as the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS) to strengthen regulation and oversight.
In addition to the opportunities arising from infrastructure growth, the expansion of takaful (sharia-compliant insurance) is also a segment targeted for expansion, particularly for the CBB. As with other areas of Islamic finance, regulation has not always kept pace with growth, partly due to disagreements over what constitutes sharia compliance, as what is accepted in one jurisdiction is not necessarily accepted in another.
The opportunities for expansion in both the conventional insurance and takaful industries are enticing. While Bahrain has one of the highest insurance penetration rates in the region, it is below the developed world average of 8%, Mahmood Al Soufi, the chief executive of multi-line insurer Bahrain National Holding (BNH), told OBG, which suggests substantial scope for growth.
Many industry leaders feel that consolidation in a somewhat fragmented sector would be beneficial. Dozens of insurers are present in what is still a moderately sized market, and some of the smaller players are undercapitalised and deliver low returns on investment. Mergers and acquisitions are expected to create leaner, stronger companies that can control larger market shares and deliver better services for their clients, benefitting the industry as a whole.
“Consolidation in the market should be left to market forces, but the CBB should put regulations and incentives in place to encourage consolidation in the future,” Tawfiq Shehab, the general manager of Al Ahlia Insurance, told OBG.
Having cemented its reputation as a leader in financial services in the Middle East, Bahrain is now setting an example for insurance growth as well, largely the result of the CBB’s prudent regulatory measures. (OBG)
Economic reform package - $3.2bn loan from IMF
(Global Arab Network) - Egypt’s government is working to obtain support for a new economic reform package it has prepared to qualify for a $3.2bn loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), though it may be a difficult task to convince opposition leaders and the public to back the plan, Global Arab Network reports according to OBG.
On February 8, Faiza Abu El Naga, the minister of planning and international cooperation, announced that the government had completed drafting its long-awaited programme of economic reforms required by the IMF as the basis for any agreement on a funding deal. However, the plan still has to overcome one more major hurdle before it can be formally submitted to the IMF for consideration, the minister said.
“It was decided that this programme would be presented for a public debate and that the IMF would be notified when the programme gets finalised,” she said.
The IMF has said it wants broad-based agreement within Egypt before it will release funding, though consensus may be hard to come by. The government of Prime Minister Kamal Al Ganzouri will have to tread a very fine line between implementing austerity measures that the IMF requires in return for a bail out and widespread demands from the Egyptian public for wage rises, relief from inflation and increased social support.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) has already said it will closely scrutinise the economic programme and will reject it if it does not find it satisfactory. The largest single block in the new parliament, FJP’s elected representatives will be required to vote on any such loan agreements.
The government is already under pressure from protestors calling for the pace of democratic and economic reforms to be stepped up. However, with both fiscal reserves and revenue falling, it is in no position to make significant increases in spending. Conversely, if it fails to present the IMF with a convincing economic programme, one that may include reductions in some state subsidies, Egypt may not qualify for the international assistance it is seeking.
Developing an economic programme that is acceptable to both the IMF and the electorate is taking on greater importance as time passes. In the early days of the 2011 revolution, many donors offered to support a post-Mubarak Egypt but Cairo has complained that few have delivered. On February 8, the prime minister told a press conference that many potential donors were waiting to see the outcome of talks with the IMF.
Another cause for urgency is the rapid shrinking of Egypt’s foreign currency reserves, which over the past 12 months have fallen from around $36bn at the beginning of 2011 to $16.3bn at the end of January 2012. According to some, this has reduced coverage for imports to around three months.
Uncertainty over the country’s economy and its ability to pay its debts have pushed up Egypt’s borrowing costs, with the Ministry of Finance having to offer a record-high yield of 15.92% on a nine-month bond and treasury bill it floated in early February. Even with this, take up on the offer was only lukewarm, with final sales 31% lower than the targeted total.
Some estimates put Egypt’s external funding requirements at up to $12bn over the coming 18 months, a figure it may struggle to achieve if the global economy slips back into recession. This would require greater calls for assistance from other indebted countries at a time when donors may be forced to tighten their purse strings.
There is at least some relief in sight, however, with the World Bank in the process of negotiating a $1bn loan and the African Development Bank also set to open talks on advancing the government a further $500m. While such support will help stabilise the current situation, pushing down Egypt’s borrowing costs and restoring investor confidence, it will be some time before a full recovery takes hold. (OBG)
Source: Global Arab Network
Kuwait to focus on increasing foreign direct investment
(Global Arab Network) - Hopes are rising that January’s elections will end a period of economic uncertainty and allow the newly elected government to focus on increasing levels of foreign direct investment (FDI).
Concern was mounting that Kuwait risked falling behind its regional rivals in attracting investment and diversifying its economy, despite surging oil revenues and solid growth which resulted in a budget surplus of KD5.3bn ($19bn) last year, Global Arab Network reports according to OBG.
While growth is estimated at 4% for 2011, FDI in Kuwait remains among the lowest in the GCC for the year, with the country performing relatively poorly against regional countries in global competitiveness surveys.
Analysts blame the slow pace of economic expansion on political wrangling that led to Sheikh Nasser Al Mohammed Al Sabah’s stepping down as prime minister last year. His resignation led to January’s elections, which saw the opposition win 60% of the seats.
Before Kuwait went to the polls, critics highlighted the slow pace of the country’s huge $100bn-plus development plan, created to drive investment in health, education and infrastructure. They called for economic reforms to be speeded up, together with the introduction of more anti-graft measures and better job opportunities.
Regional observers have also commented on the tempo of Kuwait’s economic expansion, saying that while the budget surplus highlighted the country’s wealth, it also showed spending was being hampered by indecisiveness.
Kuwait attracted $81m in FDI in 2008, according to the World Investment Report 2011, issued by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad). The figures, which were published in Gulf News in January, showed that Saudi Arabia and Qatar tapped around $28bn and $5.5bn of investment, respectively, for the same year.
A report by Moody’s rating agency in January suggested that Kuwait’s huge oil reserves were contributing to a lack of momentum in the country’s plans to diversify its economy. “Partly because of its vast oil wealth, Kuwait has been slower than some other GCC states to develop its non-oil sector through encouraging private sector activity and attracting foreign investment,” it said.
While Kuwait’s slow pace of economic expansion is giving cause for concern, observers acknowledge that the country’s wealth has provided it with a buffer against the worst of the global economic crisis.
In December, Standard & Poor’s highlighted Kuwait’s significant national wealth, sustained and consistent trade surpluses, and strong and growing net international asset base, saying they made the country “less susceptible to external shocks”. Moody's, meanwhile, reaffirmed the country's bond rating of Aa2 in its January report.
International politicans have thrown their weight behind Kuwait’s bid to move its economy forward, with former British prime minister Gordon Brown giving the country his backing to host the World Economic Forum in 2013, according to the Kuwait News Agency.
But while Kuwait’s people will view words of support as a boost for the country, they will also be looking to the government to ensure the pace of economic expansion is increased and to reassure investors that political instability has been laid to rest. (OBG)
Source: Global Arab Network
Focusing on social housing
(Global Arab Network) - As evidenced by an increased demand for construction materials, including a dramatic 25% rise in cement sales, Morocco’s property sector is continuing to see steady growth thanks in large part to a strong emphasis on social housing – a segment that has consistently run a deficit of supply, thereby promising continued expansion in the years to come, Global Arab Network reports according to OBG.
Residential property remains the real estate sector’s main driving force, accounting for around 67% of total sales. In 2011, prices increased by 3.4% compared to 2010 and the number of units sold on the market was up by 13.6%. According to the latest statistics released by Bank Al Maghrib for the last quarter of 2011, the volume of transactions in the residential property sector rose by 22.8%, mainly due to the increase in middle-income and high-end apartment and villa sales. In the last quarter of 2011, villa prices saw a year-on-year (y-o-y) increase of 4.2% and sales rose by 11.3%.
However, it was apartment sales that lead the sector, accounting for around 61% of total sales. Prices saw a y-o-y increase of 5.2%, while the volume of transactions rose by 25.7%. The majority of real estate activity comes from further along the socioeconomic spectrum, at the affordable housing end, which accounts for more than two-thirds of total residential demand.
The country’s housing deficit stood at roughly 608,000 units in 2011, with a significant shortfall in terms of the availability of government-sponsored accommodation, exacerbated in part by the Kingdom’s move to eliminate shantytowns and shift residents into proper housing.
The project, known as Cities Without Slums (Villes Sans Bidonvilles, VSB), was launched in 2004 and aims to relocate families from poorer neighbourhoods and place them into new houses in urban areas. The programme, which now impacts some 1.75m people, has seen remarkable progress towards achieving its objectives. Since the programme’s launch, an additional 400,000 people have been added to the government’s targets, and according to the Ministry of Housing, 70% of the scheme has been realised so far. Some 1.2m households have either been relocated or are currently awaiting the completion of their new home.
The VSB programme has been most successful thus far in the Oriental Region, located in north-eastern Morocco, where 83% of the targeted households have been demolished and families relocated. The Al Omrane-Oujda group, a real estate company placed under the supervision of the Ministry of Housing, has been one of the main players in the region in helping eradicate slums.
Also among the company’s main projects is that of the urban zone planned for the town of Al Aroui where 210 ha will be dedicated to housing. Some 36,000 housing units will be built in the area for about 180,000 inhabitants. Relocating families into the refurbished apartments planned by the government has been made possible thanks to a number of financing mechanisms. Fogarim, which has provided government-backed mortgages to people with low incomes since 2003, has enabled 81,000 people to obtain their own home. Among these, 15,200 households that have been relocated under the VSB scheme have benefitted from the Fogarim scheme. At the end of 2011, the credit distributed to these families accounted for around 11%, or Dh1.22bn (€109.3m), of total issued Fogarim credit.
However, the Fogarim programme currently faces a major challenge as a number of payment defaults have been reported in towns such as Oujda, Azrou and Rabat, where some households have failed to pay off their monthly instalments of around Dh1500 (€134). Authorities have asked banks for more time before taking judicial action again the loanholders, and the Ministry of Economy and Finance has put in place a new loan, the Fogarim-VSB, that specifically targets this segment of the population and lowers their monthly payments to Dh1000 (€90).
Morocco’s residential sector will continue to expand as the government pursues its objective of relocating people to newer, urban housing. Already some 4000 ha of land per year have been reclaimed for urban projects, with some 45% of this used for real estate, according to the Ministry of Agriculture. With the government planning to develop a further 70,000 ha, the sheer volume and scale of the government’s housing schemes should leave plenty of room for growth in real estate. (OBG)
Source: Global Arab Network
Construction sector - Robust growth in the coming years in Oman
(Global Arab Network) - With an increase in both government and private sector spending as a series of new infrastructure, tourism and social services projects are rolled out, Oman’s construction sector is set to experience robust growth in the coming years. The sheer scale of the building programme, however, could test the capacity of the industry, Global Arab Network reports according to OBG.
The Omani government is set to invest up to $10bn in 2012 in construction work, which represents a 23% increase on the total outlay for 2011, according to Abdullah Bin Rashid Al Kiyumi, director-general of projects at the Ministry of Housing. Al Kiyumi told delegates attending a summit on construction at the end of January that this increased spending is a reflection of the importance of the industry to the national economy.
While some of the projected $10bn construction expenditure was previously announced in last year’s budget and represents longer-term developments, the 2012 budget, released in early January, provided funding for more than $4bn worth of new developments, including 29 schools, five hospitals and extensive waterworks projects.
According to a late 2011 report by industry consultancy Ventures Middle East, more than $27bn is expected to flow into the Omani construction sector over the next three years, with the investments spread among housing, commercial, hospitality and infrastructure projects.
Real estate analysts Cluttons have estimated that retail space in Oman will increase by more than 30% by the middle of 2013. In addition, more than 2000 new hotel rooms are under construction in Muscat, which will add almost 50% to the existing accommodation stock in the capital.
Indeed, tourism will continue to play a major role in boosting the construction industry for the rest of this decade at a minimum, with the Ministry of Tourism projecting visitor numbers will increase from 1.6m in 2011 to 12m by 2020. This will necessitate a steady stream of hotels, resorts, entertainment facilities and retail space.
Infrastructure developments are another pillar supporting the industry. Both the state and private sector will invest heavily in new power production and transmission capacity over the next five years to meet rising demand for electricity and desalinated water.
There can be no doubt that the jump in spending will be a bonanza for the construction industry, though there is a question as to whether the increased flow of investments could be too much of a good thing. The sheer scale of the demands to be put on the industry in 2012 and the years beyond will test the capacity of Oman’s construction companies to keep such a broad range of projects on schedule.
This strong demand could also see an increase in costs, with both skilled labour and materials being at a premium. As construction gains momentum in other Gulf states as well – most notably in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which are allocating billions to new building developments – this year and beyond could see wage and materials increase, and supply could struggle to meet heightened demand across the region.
Despite the pressure to keep developing projects on track, and facing the risk of rising costs, Oman’s construction industry should be well placed to enjoy a period of sustained, though possibly hectic, growth in the coming years.
Source: Global Arab Network
Steady progress in property sector
(Global Arab Network) - For Qatar’s real estate sector, 2012 is expected to be much the same as the preceding 12 months, with most forecasts projecting a year of steady progress, though there are concerns that oversupply in some segments could keep prices down in the short term as the flow of new developments more than matches current demand, Global Arab Network reports according to OBG.
A recent report by property consultancy Asteco said that while rents for residential properties had been broadly stable in the last quarter of 2011, there had been a healthy increase in the number of transactions and enquiries, a trend it expected to continue into the new year. There had also been a rise in the number of sales in prime locations such as The Pearl-Qatar in the fourth quarter of the year, a move the Asteco report said indicated a return of investor confidence.
The improvement in the market could be given further impetus if contracts for major developments, in particular those for the country’s rail network, sporting stadiums and associated construction projects were awarded, said the report.
Though the completion of new projects will continue to add stock to the market, with supply set to outstrip demand, Asteco does see the sector reaching sustainable growth levels by the end of the year, Jed Wolfe, Asteco Qatar’s managing director, told OBG.
The somewhat subdued level of activity in the real estate sector last year is reflected in recent data issued by the Qatar Statistics Authority (QSA), which showed that while the 2011 consumer price index (CPI) rose by 2.1%, the rent and utility component of the index eased by 5.6% over the 12-month period.
This could change though, according to a report from QNB Capital, carried by the Gulf Times on January 16, which said the housing CPI was tipped to grow by 1.4% across 2012, as the country’s expanding population – especially due to inflow from overseas – would heat up demand.
Property sales may be given a boost by the higher levels of credit expected to flow into the marketplace this year, with Qatari banks having ample liquidity and increases in disposable income meaning buyers could be drawn towards the real estate sector in greater numbers. A study conducted by Saudi-based Samba Financial in early January predicts that domestic credit growth in Qatar could hit 20% this year, well clear of any other GCC state.
However, one challenge in this regard is the country’s mortgage law, which allows retail borrowers (as well as commercial borrowers) to borrow up to 70% of the value of a property. “There needs to be a distinction and a change in policy between retail and commercial mortgages,” Arron Browne, the managing director of LS:RES, the residential sales division of LS: Keep Moving, a local property firm, told OBG.
Though there are some concerns that Qatar could see a glut in the property market with a large number of prestige residential and commercial developments set to be rolled out in the coming year or so, it is unlikely the country will see a major drop-off in activity.
Most analysts see any supply side excess in the real estate market as a temporary situation, one that is likely to balance out by the end of this year. As such, investors may be looking at moving into property ahead of the expected rebound gaining momentum, seeking out quality before the next cycle of high demand and higher prices kicks in. (OBG)
Source: Global Arab Network
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Bank lending continuing growth through 2012 in Abu Dhabi
(Global Arab Network) - The four largest banks in Abu Dhabi reported an increase in annual profits for 2011 and, in two cases, have substantially exceeded analysts’ expectations. Meanwhile, lending in the UAE overall was up in 2011 and is expected to continue through 2012, with growth being driven in part by retail banking, including loans to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), Global Arab Network reports according to OBG.
In January 2012, the National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD), the emirate’s largest bank, reported operating profits of Dh5.3bn ($1.44bn) for 2011, up around 6.5% over the previous year, while top-line revenues increased by 10%. Net profits (after impairments and taxation) amounted to Dh3.7bn ($1bn), representing a rise of less than 1% compared to 2010. In a public statement, Michael Tomalin, the group CEO at NBAD, attributed the flat net profits to the bank’s “particularly cautious” stance regarding provisions.
Meanwhile, the bottom line at the emirate’s second-largest bank, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB), was helped by falling impairments on bad debts, which declined to about Dh2.1bn ($571.63m) in 2011 from Dh2.9bn ($789.39m) in 2010. Net profits rose sharply from Dh391m ($106.5m) to Dh3bn ($816.61m), more than Dh1bn ($272.2m) above analysts’ forecasts. Lower provisions boosted the bank’s profitability, as did the Dh1.3bn ($353.87m) earned from the sale of a minority stake in Malaysian lender RHB Capital.
Another lender that beat expectations in 2011 was First Gulf Bank (FGB), the largest privately owned bank in Abu Dhabi. Net profits in 2011 amounted to Dh3.7bn ($1bn), an increase of 8% over the previous year. The lender also recently floated a five-year, $500m sukuk. The Islamic bond was priced at 4.05%, less than the 4.72% yield on a five-year sharia-compliant note issued in January 2012 by Dubai-based Emirates Islamic Bank, underscoring the market’s confidence in FGB.
Profits were also up at the emirate’s fourth-largest lender, Union National Bank (UNB). UNB’s net profits in 2011 amounted to Dh1.5bn ($408.31m), an increase of 11% over 2010, despite a 65.8% increase in provisions over this period. Net loans and advances grew to Dh57.6bn ($15.68bn) as of December 2011, a moderate increase of 1.8% over the Dh56.6bn ($15.41m) recorded at the end of 2010.
Meanwhile, overall lending in the UAE grew at a rate of 4.2% between December 2010 and November 2011, with sector-wide loans and advances reaching Dh1.1trn ($272.2bn), according to the latest data from the Central Bank of the UAE. This represents an improvement over 2010, when total lending rose by 1.3%, although it is still small compared to the annual growth rates of more than 30% that were achieved between 2005 and 2008.
Looking ahead, banks in the UAE and the GCC more broadly are expected to focus on lending to SMEs in 2012 in order to boost returns, according to a 2011 survey by global consultancy Accenture. In the past, SMEs in the UAE have faced challenges in obtaining credit, suggesting that this segment represents substantial market potential. Moreover, increased lending to smaller businesses would be in line with the policies of the Central Bank of the UAE, which has taken steps to encourage loans to SMEs.
Many banks already have special programmes in place for lending to smaller businesses. For example, NBAD opened its first dedicated business banking centre in 2010 and has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development to process loan applications for eligible borrowers which the fund refers to it, while ADCB runs six dedicated SME centres and employs a team of relationship managers to service its SME clients.
More recently, in January the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) announced that NBAD would offer financial facilities of up to $100m to SMEs based in Dubai, a programme that could benefit more than 1000 companies, the DCCI said in a statement. According to the chamber, the bank will offer competitive rates, as well as grant loans within three working days.
SMEs are likely to be a strategic priority for local banks in the long run, as financial institutions seek to diversify their sources of income. Indeed, while the emirate’s lenders performed well in 2011 – particularly in the context of a difficult year for the global banking sector and regional political instability – projected growth for SMEs in the UAE suggests that this could be an important market segment looking ahead. (OBG)
Source: Global Arab Network
The AACC is honoured to welcome its NEW MEMBERS from March/April 2012:
Al Madar Contracting WLL
Al Madar Group W.l.l. is a Qatari based Property Development Company with over 17 years of experience and a formidable reputation for quality and service incorporation cutting edge architectural designs and build of Landmarks in Commercial Office Towers, Residential Tower Apartments, Hotels and Land Developments including Joint Ventures.
Al Madar Contracting WLL
A: Muntazah Street (Doha, Qatar)
T: + 974 44674466
F: + 974 44671333
MED TRUST Handelsges.m.b.H.
MED TRUST is Austria’s leading company providing diverse products for people suffering from diabetes. Being client of MED TRUST does not only mean to profit from the company’s high quality and service guarantees but also to receive important information about current news.
MED TRUST Handelsges.m.b.H.
A: Gewerbepark 10, 7221 Marz
T: + 43 2626 64190
F: + 43 2626 64190-77
Salah Addin Investment Commission
Salah Addin investment Commission is an independent entity providing and supporting suitable climate for investment and to foster its development in the governorate.
Salah Addin Investment Commission
A: Tikrit-Salah Al Din (Iraq)
T: + 964 770 47 11116
Siemens AG Österreich
A steadily growing demand for energy, increasing water consumption, and the ever-greater need for high-quality, affordable healthcare are all issues that are shaping the world of Siemens– and that are especially apparent in cities. As an integrated technology company, Siemens offers a wide range of future-oriented solutions to meet these challenges.
Siemens AG Österreich
A: Siemensstraße 90, 1210 Vienna
T: + 43 0 51707-0
F: + 43 51707 52800
UV&P Umweltmanagement – Verfahrenstechnik Neubacher & Partner Ges.m.b.H
UV&P Environmental Management - Engineering Neubacher & Partner Ges.m.b.H. is a leading independent consulting and engineering company in the field of waste management. The company provides environmental engineering services for waste treatment, recycling and recovery, waste-to-energy, industrial waste water treatment and air pollution abatement, clean-up and remediation of landfills.
UV&P Umweltmanagement – Verfahrenstechnik Neubacher & Partner Ges.m.b.H
A: Lassallestraße 42/14, 1020 Vienna
T: + 43 1 2149520-0
F: + 43 1 2149520-20
The AACC is pleased to circulate the following announcement
by its esteemed cooperation partners and members
►OESTERREICHISCHE KONTROLLBANK / TUNISIAN MINISTRY OF FINANCE
Austrian-Tunisian soft loans agreement for investments and projects in Tunisia valid until June 2012 !
Austrian enterprises are invited to invest in Tunisian projects on the basis of soft-loans financing
The existing framework agreement on the financial co-operation, signed between the Government of the Republic of Austria, represented by the Federal Minister of Finance and the Government of the Republic of Tunisia, came into force on June 1st, 2010 and is still valid until June 1st, 2012. The indicative financial framework for this agreement amounts to EUR 75,000,000.-, whereof until now only a fractional amount has been utilized for concessional credits.
According to the World Bank classification Tunisia’s GNI exceeded the threshold for the financing on concessional terms in 2011 for the first time. If this is also the case in 2012 Tunisia would lose its tied aid eligibility as from mid-2012.
Austrian enterprises interested in projcets and cooperation in Tunisia are therefore invited to accelerate the finalising of their negotiations in order to make use of the beneficial conditions offered by the soft loan agreement until June 2012!
For more information about see the following brochure on "Financing on Concessional Terms / Tunisia".
Contact & further information:
Ms. Ilse Czermak
Tel: +43 1 53127-2433
►UV & P
Study tour and seminar: recycling and recovery of energy from waste
The Austrian company UV&P Environmental Management & Engineering Neubacher & Partner GmbH organises a study tour and seminar on the issue of recycling and recovery of energy from waste from the 11th to the 16th May 2012 in Austria.
Together with West Germany and Switzerland, Austria has been one of the leading countries in material recycling and recovery of energy from waste for 30 years now. For waste management is clearly a very complex issue requiring the necessary protection of the environment and at the same time the efficient use of available resources and energy, Austria has been developing a comprehensive experience in project design and operation of modern technologies for recycling and treatment of waste in order to be able to fulfil the needs of the different stakeholders in this field. This positive experience is also reflected in the broad acceptance of waste-to-energy plants by the Austrian citizens and many political representatives.
The Study Tour and Seminar of the UV&P Environmental Management & Engineering Neubacher & Partner GmbH is open to international participants interested in the issue of sustainable waste management. In the course of this event there will be visits to seven state-of-the-art facilities and numerous seminars on related issues. The Study Tour and Seminar will be led by Eng. Franz NEUBACHER, a senior waste management expert and co-founder of UV&P Environmental Management & Engineering Neubacher & Partner GmbH. Many other experts from the mentioned field are also expected to contribute to the Study Tour and Seminar, including Univ.-Prof. Harald RAUPENSTRAUCH, Eng. Walter HAUER and Dr. Johann WIMMER.
The programme of the Study Tour and Seminar starts with a bus tour from the airport in Munich to Ahrental in Innsbruck, Austria, where the participants will visit a mechanical sorting and treatment plant. Afterwards they will be transported to a seminar hotel at the Lake Attersee in Upper Austria. In the following five days of the Study Tour and Seminar the participants have the chance to take part in various seminars on issues as for example pollution prevention and control, technical systems for resource and energy efficiency, source separation and sorting for recycling, environmental impact assessment, politics and public relations etc.
Moreover they will be offered several trips to different plants, including a tire processing plant, a cement plant, municipal waste treatment plants, some waste-to-energy plants etc.
Another very important appointment will take place at the Austrian Chamber of Commerce on the 15th May 2012 where there will be a reception and B-2-B meetings with Austrian companies presenting their know-how and their reference projects in America.
All persons interested in participating at this event are kindly asked to register by no later than the 30th April 2012 with Ms. Padmini Ranawat or Ms. Maria da Luz Fernandes (
The total costs for participation amount to:
- Seminar Recycling and Recovery of Energy including study material: 1.300 EUR (+ 20% VAT)
- Accommodation, meals, local travel including interpreter: 1.600 EUR (+ 20% VAT)
If you have any further questions please contact Ms. Ranawat and Ms. da Luz Fernandes or visit the UV&P’s website www.uvp.at.
Neue Check-In Zeiten! Um auch zukünftig weiterhin die pünktliche Abfertigung unserer Flüge zu ermöglichen, möchten wir Sie auf einige Änderungen hinweisen. Wir bitten unsere Passagiere, mindestens 90 Minuten vor Abflug für ihren Flug einzuchecken. Die Check-In-Schalter schließen nun bereits 60 Minuten vor Abflug. Nach dem Einchecken werden Passagiere gebeten, mindestens 60 Minuten vor Abflug die Sicherheitskontrollen passieren. Das Boarding Gate schließt 15 Minuten vor Abflug.
Hello Tomorrow! Mit unserer neuen, globalen Marken-Plattform möchte Emirates dazu einladen, Ungewöhnliches zu probieren, neue Ideen zu gestalten sowie neue Visionen zu entwickeln. Entdecken Sie unsere neue globale Kampagne
"Hello Tomorrow" auf www.emirateshellotomorrow.com und besuchen Sie unsere neue Facebook-Seite www.facebook.com/Emirates.
Mahlerstrasse 12/6 | T +43 1 5326028 107
1010 Vienna, Austria | F +43 1 533 6887| emirates.at
بالطيب يؤكد على دور المرأة في قيادة تونس الجديدة
بدعوة مشتركة من غرفة التجارة العربية النمساوية، وبتنسيق مع هيئة الاستثمار التونسية وسفارة تونس لدى النمسا، حلّ السيد عليا بالطيب، وزير الدولة التونسي لشؤون الاستثمار والتعاون الدولي، ضيفا على النمسا في زيارة بدأها يوم 1 أبريل، واستمرت حتى 3 أبريل 2012، أجرى خلالها عددا من اللقاءات الهامة مع ممثلي هيئات ومؤسسات اقتصادية وسياسية نمساوية. وأكد بالطيب خلال الزيارة على الدور الذي ينتظر المرأة التونسية في ظل نظام ديمقراطي، صار نموذجا يحتذى وقوة دافعة للدول العربية الأخرى.
وقام السيد بالطيب بزيارة لوزارة المواصلات والتكنولوجيا؛ حيث استقبله السيد أندرياس رايشهارت، رئيس قطاع الاتصالات والابتكار بالوزارة، وقدم عرضا حول الطاقة المتجددة وتقنياتها واستخداماتها في النمسا، وأبدى الجانب التونسي اهتماما بضرورة تبادل الخبرات مع الجانب النمساوي، وحث على نقل التكنولوجيا المتعلقة بهذا المجال الهام إلى تونس، بما يسهم في استغلال المصادر الطبيعية التي تميز البلاد، مشيرا إلى المشروع الرائد في إنتاج الطاقة النظيفة وتصديرها من دول شمال أفريقيا إلى أوروبا، ضمن مشروع ديزرتك.كما أشار بالطيب إلى التطورات السياسية التي تعيشها تونس، وما يصاحب ذلك من توجهات اقتصادية واعدة، على رأسها الاهتمام بالتطور التقني وتوسيع رقعة التنمية.
والتقى وزير الدولة التونسي، رئيس كنترول بنك، الدكتور رودلف شولتن، وهي الجهة المعنية بتقديم القروض الميسرة لتنفيذ مشروعات البنى التحتية في الدول النامية؛ حيث تمت الإشارة إلى أن شهر أغسطس المقبل سيكون موعد انتهاء العمل بعقد القرض الميسر الحالي المقدم من النمسا إلى تونس، والذي تبلغ قيمته 75 مليون، ولم يستغل منها حتى الآن سوى 5 مليون يورو لتنفيذ 3 مشروعات. وحث كل من بالطيب وشولتن المستثمرين على الإسراع بالاستفادة من هذا القرض؛ خاصة في ظل تراجع فرص تونس بالحصول على قرض ميسر جديد، لكون نصيب الفرد من إجمالي الناتج المحلي في تونس تجاوز المعيار الذي تحدده منظمة التعاون والتنمية الاقتصادية الأوروبية، لمنح القروض الميسرة.
ومن جهة أخرى أكد بالطيب على المكانة التي تحظى بها المرأة في تونس الجديدة، والدور المنوطة به من أجل دعم الاستقرار ومسيرة الديمقراطية في البلاد. وأشار كذلك إلى أن تونس كانت بمثابة القاطرة التي جرّت وراءها شعوب المنطقة الطامحة إلى الحرية، مؤكدا على أن هذا الدور الريادي يلزم التونسيين بضرورة إنجاح مسيرتهم التي بدءوها ليكونوا نموذجا ومثلا يحتذى لدول المنطقة في تطبيق الديمقراطية.
وكان بالطيب قد أجرى العديد من اللقاءات خلال زيارته للنمسا؛ من بينها جلسات مباحثات مع المسؤولين في شركة النفط الوطنية النمساوية، ومدير عام صندوق أوبك للتنمية (أوفيد)، الدكتور سليمان الحربش، ومدير منظمة التنمية الصناعة التابعة للأمم المتحدة (يونيدو)، الدكتور كندي يومكيلا، والمسؤولين في وزاراتي الشؤون الخارجية والشؤون الاجتماعية. كما أقيم لقاء خاص بمقر الغرفة الاقتصادية الاتحادية النمساوية، تم خلاله استعراض مستقبل العلاقات الاقتصادية بين النمسا وتونس. والتقى بالطيب خلال الزيارة أيضا الرئيس العربي لغرفة التجارة العربية النمساوية المستشار نبيل الكزبري؛ حيث تم التباحث حول الفرص الاستثمارية في تونس.
اتحاد الغرف العربية يحتفل بمرور 60 عاما على تأسيسه
تحت رعاية الرئيس اللبناني السيد ميشال سليمان، احتفل الاتحاد العام لغرف التجارة والصناعة والزراعة للبلاد العربية يوم 12 مارس 2012 بمرور 60 عاما على تأسيسه، وسط اهتمام إعلامي وسياسي كبير، وبحضور جمع غفير من رؤساء الاتحادات العربية المحلية، ورؤساء الغرف العربية والغرف العربية المشتركة والأمناء العامين، إضافة إلى المعنيين بالشأن الاقتصادي.
وبهذه المناسبة ألقى الرئيس اللبناني كلمة خلال الاحتفال الذي حضره كل من السيد نجيب ميقاتي رئيس الوزراء، والسيد نبيه بري رئيس البرلمان، تحدث فيها عن الإنجازات التي حققها الاتحاد، ومنها خارطة الطريق للسوق العربية المشتركة. وأشاد الرئيس اللبناني "بصمود اتحاد الغرف العربية أمام التقلبات والأزمات". كما نوّه سليمان بما تم التوصل إليه من توقيع مذكرة تفاهم مع منظمة الأمم المتحدة للتنمية الصناعية، برئاسة السيد كندي يومكيلا، وتتضمن الاتفاق مع الاتحاد على التعاون في مجال خلق فرص العمل للشباب في المنطقة العربية.
وقد طرحت فكرة التعاون مع منظمة "يونيدو" من قبل غرفة التجارة العربية النمساوية؛ خلال استقبال السيد يومكيلا للمستشار نبيل الكزبري الرئيس العربي للغرفة والمهندس مضر الخوجه، أمينها العام، يوم 23 يناير بمقر المنظمة في العاصمة النمساوية فيينا؛ حيث أوضحا الأهمية التي يحظى بها اتحاد الغرف العربية كصرح اقتصادي عربي، وما حققه من إنجازات، وما يقدمه من خدمات على المستويين الإقليمي والعالمي.
وفي كلمته أمام الحضور خلال الاحتفال، أكد السيد عدنان القصار، رئيس الاتحاد على أن "هذه المؤسسة العملاقة تأسست من أجل تحقيق التكامل العربي". وزف القصار بشرى أن "الاتحاد الجمركي العربي سيبدأ العمل به في عام 2015، كما سيتم تدشين السوق العربية المشتركة في عام 2020".
وعلى جانب آخر، أقام رئيس الوزراء اللبناني، نجيب ميقاتي، مأدبة غداء تكريما لضيوف الاحتفال من أعضاء اتحاد الغرف العربية، بمقر مجلس الوزراء في العاصمة بيروت. وأكد في كلمة ألقاها بهذه المناسبة، على دعم الحكومة اللبنانية الكامل للاتحاد، مشيرا في الوقت ذاته إلى تطلع لبنان إلى مساهمات فاعلة ومؤثرة إيجابا على منعة الاقتصاد اللبناني. وأشار إلى أن لبنان تبقى بيئة حاضنة للمشاريع والاستثمارات.
الغرفة تشارك في المنتدى الدولي للتقنية الخضراء بالبحرين
بدعوة من منظمة الأمم المتحدة للتنمية الصناعية "يونيدو"، شارك الأمين العام لغرفة التجارة العربية النمساوية، المهندس مضر الخوجه في المنتدى الدولي للتقنية الخضراء، والذي تم تنظيمه في عاصمة مملكة البحرين، تحت رعاية صاحب السمو الشيخ عبد الله بن حمد آل خليفة، الممثل الشخصي لملك البحرين، رئيس الهيئة العامة لحماية الثروة البحرية والبيئة والحياة الفطرية، وبالتعاون مع "يونيدو"، وذلك في الفترة بين يومي 13 و15 مارس 2012.
وقد أكد مدير عام منظمة الأمم المتحدة للتنمية الصناعية دكتور كندي يومكيلا في مؤتمر صحفي أن مملكة البحرين مرشحة لتكون مقرا رئيسا لمركز اقليمي للتقنيات الخضراء يخدم دول منطقة الشرق الاوسط وشمال افريقيا لدعم خطط التنمية المستدامة الصديقة للبيئة.
وأشار يومكيلا إلى أن المنتدى والمعرض المصاحب له جاء في توقيت مناسب، ليواكب التحديات والمستجدات الدولية، حيث يشهد عام 2012 مناقشة مدلولات التنمية المستدامة وكيفية الحفاظ على البيئة ومصادر الطاقة خلال القمة المزمع إقامتها في البرازيل، خلال شهر يونيو المقبل.
وتضمن المنتدى ست جلسات استمرت طوال الأيام الثلاثة، وناقشت عدد من المحاور والقضايا المتعلقة بالطاقة البديلة واستخداماتها، مثل مصادر الطاقة المتجددة والبديلة، وكفاءة الطاقة والتنمية المستدامة، ودور مكاتب ترويج الاستثمار في شبكة تشجيع الاستثمار والنمو الأخضر وخلق فرص العمل، وإدارة النفايات ونمط الحياة الخضراء، وإدارة المياه وإدارة الموارد في القطاع الصناعي، وكذلك موضوعات توليد الكهرباء باستخدام البرج الشمسي، وتطبيقات الكيمياء الخضراء في مجال الوقود الحيوي والصيدلانيات.
وقد شارك المهندس مضر الخوجه الجلسة السادسة من المنتدى، والتي حملت عنوان الصناعات المستدامة والنمو الأخضر؛ حيث قدم عرضا مرئيا حول تعزيز النمو الأخضر في الدول العربية من خلال التعاون مع الاتحاد الأوروبي، أوضح فيها أن هناك عدد من المبادرات والمشاريع التي ينفذها الاتحاد الأوروبي في منطقة الشرق الأوسط ومن بينها تطوير سياسة سوق كهروبيئية بين أوروبا ومنطقة الشرق الأوسط، وذلك بهدف توفير 20 جيجا وات من الطاقة البديلة للمنطقة، وتحقيق وفر للطاقة بحلول عام 2020.
كما لفت الخوجه إلى القروض الميسرة التي يقدمها الاتحاد الأوروبي لدول المنطقة، للاستثمار في مجال الطاقة البديلة، ومنها ما قدمه بنك الاستثمار الأوروبي من قرض لمشروعات الطاقة في دول حوض البحر المتوسط، التي وقعت اتفاقيات شراكة مع الاتحاد.
الخوجه يناقش نقل التكنولوجيا النمساوية إلى المملكة
قام أمين عام الغرفة العربية النمساوية المهندس مضر الخوجة بزيارة للغرفة التجارية الصناعية بجدة، التقى خلالها الأمين العام المساعد للغرفة، المهندس محي الدين حكمي. وقد بحث الجانبان سبل تعزيز العلاقات والتعاون فيما بينهما، وكذلك إمكانيات تعزيز الاستثمارات بين كل من النمسا والمملكة العربية السعودية.
ومن جانبه أوضح الخوجه أن هناك تطلعات لدى المستثمرين ورجال الأعمال النمساويين إلى دخول السوق السعودي بما يحتويه من فرص استثمارية واعدة؛ خاصة في مجال نقل التكنولوجيا واستخدامات الطاقة البديلة، وهي المجالات التي تتميز بها دولة النمسا، وتضعها في مرتبة متقدمة بين الدول الأوروبية في هذا المجال.
وأكد الخوجه على أن غرفة التجارة العربية النمساوية تعمل من جانبها على مد جسور التواصل بين النمسا وجميع الدول العربية، بما يسهم في تعزيز العلاقات الاقتصادية بين الجانبين، وزيادة التبادل التجاري ودعم المشاريع المشتركة. ونوّه الخوجه بالمكانة التي تتمتع بها المملكة العربية السعودية على المستويين الإقليمي والعالمي، وبخاصة في المجال الاقتصادي والتجاري، وما تتمتع به من إمكانات هائلة، وما تقدمه المملكة من تسهيلات لتطوير الفرص الاستثمارية.
ومن جهته، أشاد المهندس حكمي بما تحظى به النمسا من إمكانيات وخبرات في مجال متعددة، وخاصة تقنية المعلومات ومشاريع البنى التحتية.
واقترح الخوجه أن تتعاون غرفة التجارة العربية النمساوية والغرفة التجارية الصناعية بجدة، من أجل إقامة معرض افتراضي يشارك فيه رجال أعمال وشركات من الجانبين النمساوي والسعودي، بغرض تعريف المستثمرين بالإمكانيات التي تتمتع بها البلدان.
جولة علمية للتعرف على تقنية إنتاج الطاقة من النفايات
تنظم شركة نويباخر النمساوية لإدارة وهندسة البيئة UV&P ، العضو في غرفة التجارة العربية النمساوية، جولة علمية تستغرق خمسة أيام، من 11 وحتى 16 مايو 2012، تهدف إلى تعريف المعنيين من الأفراد والمؤسسات الدولية بالإدارة المستدامة للنفايات. وتتضمن الجولة زيارات إلى 7 منشآت عالية التقنية في عدد من مدن النمسا، مصحوبة بحلقات دراسية حول كيفية الوقاية والتعامل مع النفايات، بما في ذلك عمليات الجمع وإعادة التدوير للنفايات، فضلا عن التخزين البيني للنفايات باستخدام طرق آمنة بيئيا دون التعرض لمخاطر الحرائق.
ويدير الحلقات النقاشية الخبير المتخصص في مجال إدارة النفايات، المهندس فرانس نويباخر (الحاصل على درجة الماجستير في مجال التكنولوجيا والسياسة، من معهد ماساتشوستس للتكنولوجيا، ودرجة الماجستير في الهندسة الكيميائية من جامعة التكنولوجيا في مدينة جراتس النمساوية). وقد عمل نويباخر ككبير خبراء في صندوق حماية البيئة من النمسا، كما أنه من المؤسسين لشركة إدارة وهندسة البيئة في النمسا.
كما يحاضر أيضا في هذه الحلقات النقاشية بروفيسور هارالد راوبنشتراوخ حول موضوع "الوقاية والسيطرة على مخاطر الحرائق"، وكذلك يشارك المهندس فالتر هاور، حول موضوع فرز وتحليل مكونات النفايات، بالإضافة إلى مناقشات مع الكيميائي الدكتور يوهان فيمر، المسؤول السابق عن التقييم المستقل للمشاريع الكبرى لإدارة النفايات في إقليم النمسا العليا. ومن بين المحاور التي تتناولها الجلسات النقاشية، فرز وإعادة تدوير النفايات الصلبة، استعادة الطاقة من النفايات، والاختلافات الإقليمية في تكوين النفايات. ويشمل البرنامج العلمي الذي تنظمه الشركة، زيارة المشاركين لمقر غرفة التجارة العربية النمساوية؛ حيث يلتقون خلال حفل استقبال بممثلي شركات نمساوية تعرض خبراتها في مجال إدارة النفايات. ويشار إلى أن آخر موعد للتسجيل في هذه الجولة العلمية يوم 30 أبريل الجاري.
جدير بالذكر أن شركة نويباخر لإدارة وهندسة البيئة لديها خبرة دولية أكثر من 20 عاما في مجال تقنيات الطاقة البديلة، وإدارة النفايات. كما أن النمسا تعد من أكثر الدول الأوروبية تقدما في هذا المجال الحيوي، بالإضافة إلى القيود الصارمة التي تفرضها البلاد من أجل المحافظة على البيئة، وخاصة فيما يتعلق بالتخلص من النفايات العضوية والنفايات الخطرة. وللنمسا خبرة واسعة في مجال تصميم وإدارة المشروعات وتقنية إعادة التدوير ومعالجة مختلف النفايات، وإنتاج الطاقة منها.