Arab officials discuss Brexit opportunities in London

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Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit speaking at the event. (Supplied)
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Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit speaking at the event. (Supplied)
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GCC Secretary General Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani speaking at the event. (Supplied)
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Mohamed Abdo Saeed, President of The Union of Arab Chambers addressing the event. (Supplied)
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Mohamed Abdo Saeed, President of The Union of Arab Chambers addressing the event. (Supplied)
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Dr. Sami A. Alabidi, Chairman of Council of Saudi Chambers make a speech during the event. (Supplied)
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Arab British Economic Summit panel. (Supplied)
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Arab British Economic Summit at Queen Elizabeth II Center in London (Supplied)
Updated 05 July 2019

Arab officials discuss Brexit opportunities in London

  • Conference, hosted by Arab British Chamber of Commerce (ABCC), tackled areas regarding infrastructure, investment, sustainable development and renewable energy
  • head of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Secretary-General Abdullatif Al-Zayani, spoke at the event

LONDON: Senior Arab officials and organizations met with their UK counterparts at a summit in London on Wednesday to discuss investment and bilateral opportunities, as the country prepares to leave the EU.
“Britain is on the verge of a crucial turning point in its relationships with the rest of the world,” said Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit. “The Arab world has a combined gross domestic product (GDP) exceeding $2.5 trillion annually. It has great economic power, wants sustainable investments in Britain, and sustainable British investments in its own countries.”
The head of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Secretary-General Abdullatif Al-Zayani, said harnessing the talents of young people — “a genuine asset to the region” — would be essential for any future relationship between the UK and GCC countries.
“If our societies can harness the energy and resourcefulness of our young people, then they can lead us into a vibrant new world with possibilities we could not have dreamed of a few years ago, but which to them are second nature,” he claimed.
The conference, hosted by the Arab British Chamber of Commerce (ABCC), tackled areas regarding infrastructure, investment, sustainable development and renewable energy opportunities in the Middle East and North Africa.

The chairman of the Council of Saudi Chambers, Sami Al-Abidi, said the Kingdom’s delegation represented Saudi Arabia’s experience in investment, infrastructure and reliance on sustainable development, as well as current projects being undertaken by the Saudi government and in the private sector. 
“Saudi Arabia has had a historic relationship with Britain with many old mutual investments, and now we are at a turning point as investment is increasing with very high returns due to the Vision 2030,” Al-Abidi told Arab News. 
Meanwhile, the President of the Union of Arab Chambers said commercial activities would expand between the two countries if the UK leaves the EU.
Mohamed Abdo Saeed said: “If the UK follows through with Brexit, this relationship is only going to be stronger and will see new British investments in the Kingdom, as well as Saudi capital in Britain.”

FASTFACT

£50 billion

The UK's trading relationship with the Middle East region exceeds £50 billion ($62.5 billion).

UK trade commissioner for the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Simon Penney, said Britain’s trading relationships with the region exceeded £50 billion ($62.5 billion), and that the GCC was the UK’s fourth largest trading partner outside of the EU.
“We are very keen to partner with Saudi companies and Brexit offers many opportunities, particularly around Vision 2030, but also around future trading relationships,” he told Arab News, adding that he would be visiting Riyadh soon to follow up on their commitments and obligations toward the vision.
“We are a trading island nation that has done so for hundreds of years, and we have always traded with the Arab world, and want to ensure that those relationships are developed properly.”

The chair of the Arab International Women’s Forum, Baroness Symons, said the UK was focusing on technology, the environment, youth and their employment and women’s issues in the region.
“The Kingdom has opened not only windows, but doors as well, for women to be more engaged in the economy, get the best education and be given more opportunities,” she said.
ABCC Secretary-General Haifa Al-Kaylani stressed the long-standing relations between the two Kingdoms were “dramatically increasing” every year. 
Several Saudi businesses were present at the summit, among them Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia), to shed light on the Kingdom’s investment opportunities and support new businesses.
“Saudi Arabia is now on everybody’s mind when they talk about investment and I tell people this is the time to invest because, by 2025 and 2030, there will be a great return on investment,” Frank Valle, Saudia’s manager of sales and marketing in the UK and Ireland, told Arab News.


Former Wirecard COO Marsalek’s entry into Philippines forged, justice minister says

Updated 04 July 2020

Former Wirecard COO Marsalek’s entry into Philippines forged, justice minister says

  • Immigration officers who inputted the fictitious entries have been relieved of their duties and face administrative sanctions

MANILA: Immigration records showing Wirecard’s former chief operating officer Jan Marsalek arrived in the Philippines on June 23 and departed for China the next day were falsified, Philippines Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Saturday.
Guevarra said the immigration officers who inputted the fictitious entries have been relieved of their duties and face administrative sanctions.
“The investigation has now turned to persons who made the false entries in the database, their motives and their cohorts,” Guevarra told reporters.
Marsalek, 40, was fired as COO of the German firm on June 18 after auditor EY refused to sign off on Wirecard’s accounts. The company, once one of the hottest fintech companies in Europe, collapsed a week later owing creditors almost $4 billion after disclosing a $2.1 billion hole in its accounts that auditor EY said was the result of a sophisticated global fraud.
The missing money was purportedly held in escrow accounts at two Philippine banks, which have denied any links with the Wirecard.
Guevarra said it was possible Marsalek could be in the country, telling Reuters, “Notwithstanding the Bureau of Immigration report, I do not totally discount the possibility that Marsalek may be in the Philippines.”
“We are an island country, and there are backdoors through which undocumented foreigners may slip through,” he said.
Munich prosecutors obtained arrest warrants against ex-CEO Markus Braun and Marsalek on June 22. Braun turned himself in that day, but Marsalek has disappeared and his mobile number is no longer in service.
Both are suspected of market manipulation, false accounting and fraud, while the circle of suspects has widened to the entire management board of Wirecard.
Marsalek’s lawyer has declined all requests for comment.
Marsalek had oversight of Wirecard’s Asian operations, which are at the center of suspicion by auditors and prosecutors of attempts to falsely inflate cash balances, turnover and profit.
Guevarra said earlier immigration records had shown that Marsalek had been in the Philippines from March 3 to 5.