Publication Date: 
Sat, 2010-02-20 01:34

Apart from the fact that she was relegated to the “women’s section” of the JEF — where she says the entire section was only allowed two questions to the forum participants — she was also told she could be seated in the men’s section but was later “blocked and stopped” from entering.
“I respect the rules here,” she said, “but I was told the first day I can sit in the men’s section, but on the second day I was forced into the women section. I couldn’t pose a question when in the women’s section because only two questions were allowed.”
Subsequently, Gruda added, she was unable to network effectively at the JEF.
Gruda, whose company seeks German joint ventures with small and medium businesses in the Gulf region said that Saudis need to be “more open and supportive” of her efforts if they expect her to be able to sell ventures to German investors.
If not, she said: “They (Saudi business executives) will lose more; I already have businesses.”
By contrast, she said her experiences in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi three years ago were “active.” 
In contrast it took her two years to even get permission to enter the Kingdom.
 “I wanted to come here last August, but Saudis came to Bahrain (instead) and we met there,” said Gruda.
Gruda says that apart of these complications, she feels there are opportunities in Saudi Arabia, and she works to gather enough information to be able to sell these ideas to Germans back home.
She points out that the paperwork is actually easier in the GCC than it is in Germany.
She also pointed out that the Nov. 25 floods raised red flags among investors back home, making it more difficult to sell the idea of investing in projects in Jeddah.
Saudi businesspeople, she said, have also to look for quality over cost.
“I said this (in the forum) on food for example,” she said. “I asked about the plans to cooperate in the food sector, and that they should think about quality and not just cost. They must be 100% sure about the quality, and Germany has that.”

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