Thursday, February 12, 2009

Jeddah Forum eyes big names

JEDDAH – The Jeddah Economic Forum (JEF) has got the go-ahead to invite 25 international speakers, including heads of states and prime ministers.
JEF is now checking on the availability of the speakers for the annual event, which was to be held on Feb.15-18 but was postponed for the first time in its 10-year history because the organizers did not get the clearance to hold the event on schedule.
Included in a speakers’ list approved by Abdullah Zainal Ali Reza, Minister of Commerce and Industry and sent on Feb. 4 to Prince Khaled Al-Faisal Emir of Makkah, and the Chairman of the Saudi Council of Chamber of Commerce, are the following:
Former Soviet Union president Mikhail Gorbachev,
Prince Charles of Britain,
French President Nicolas Sarkozy,
Irish President Mary McAleese,
Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Queen Rania,
Russian President Dimitry Medvedev,
former US vice president Al Gore,
former Polish President Alexander Kwasniewski,
Egyptian Minister of Manpower Aisha Abdel Hady,
UN chief Ban ki-Moon,
Indian Congress Party chairperson Sonia Gandhi,
ndian Minister of Commerce and Industry Kamal Nath,
Indian Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Oscar Fernandes,
Executive President of Bahraini Council for Economic Development Sheikh Muhammed Isa Bin Khalifa,
German Minister of Labor and Economy Wolfgang Clement,
EU head for Labor and Social Affairs Vladimir Spidla,
Malaysian Minster of Human Resources Fong Chan Onn,
Italian Minister of Labor and Housing Roberto Maroni,
Canadian Minister of Labor Jean-Pierre Blackburn,
French Minister of Work and Housing Xavier Bertrand, Russian Minister of Energy Igor Yusufov,
Luxembourg Minister of Economy and Foreign Trade Jeannot Krecke,
and Turkish State Minister and Deputy Premier Nazim EkrenThe Minister,
in his letter, instructed the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) to form a working team that includes representatives of the relevant government agencies and specialists to make the necessary arrangements for the forum.
Mazen Batterji, JCCI deputy chairman said “the time available for obtaining the speakers poses a challenge but the Chamber is ready to deal with any eventuality and is not facing any difficulty with sponsors and donors.”
He said the forum has an allocation of up to SR20 million.Batterji did not confirm or deny the new April deadline that was announced by JCCI last month, when the postponement was announced.
The Jeddah Marketing Board (JMB), organizers of the Forum, and its working team have started contacting the international speakers to determine their availability dates. So far, none of the speakers on the list has confirmed participation.JCCI and JMB were rocked earlier this month by sudden top-level changes.
JCCI Chairman Saleh Turki was replaced by Muhammad Abdul Qader Al-Fadhl. At JMB, Sami Bahrawi was removed from his post as chairman. JCCI sources said Bahrawi continues to lead the effort to organize the forum.Amr Enany, former JMB chairman, has told Saudi Gazette that it would take at least a year to organize a forum of the standard JEF is known for worldwide. – Okaz/ SG

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