German business leaders eager to share know-how with Saudi entrepreneurs, says expert

German business leaders are looking forward to sharing their experiences and knowledge of small- and medium-enterprises with Saudi entrepreneurs, women in particular, to help the Kingdom achieve the aims of Vision 2030.

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SMEs and innovative business are the key drivers of the German economy and a growing sector in Saudi Arabia as part of the national reforms, said Dr. Dalia Samra-Rohte of the German-Saudi Arabian Liaison Office for Economic Affairs in Riyadh.

“In Germany we have a very strong SMEs culture,” she said. “We have a lot of them as market leaders. They are well-positioned in the niche market and also leading internationally, so we are looking into it from the investment point of view.

“We are talking here (in Saudi Arabia) to different institutions and chambers to see how we can have more groups working together and make the market more accessible in the forms of data and information, in order to increase awareness for better cooperation.”

Samra-Rohte became the delegate for German Industry and Commerce in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Yemen in August. She is an expert on digital startups, with a focus on female entrepreneurship, and was previously the deputy CEO of the German-Emirati Joint Council (AHK) and managing director of the AHK Office in Abu Dhabi.

She said there are women in leadership positions in many German companies, and that the growing empowerment of women in the Kingdom offers great potential and is a key aspect of business cooperation between the two countries. “Female entrepreneurship is part of Vision 2030, so we are sending the message that we want to support it,” she said.

“We are looking into different types of cooperation, and have already started talking to the chambers here, as well as related institutions, about setting up female entrepreneurship networks that will be able to learn from each other.”

The Kingdom is undergoing an exciting process of diversification and localization, she noted. “We had an event in mid-September hosted for us at the Saudi Aramco headquarters during which they gave an insight into their projects, including energy parks, and we are trying to complement the plans as German companies are working in the energy field,” she said.

“We are also working on renewable-energy programs. In November, a delegation will come to the Kingdom and we have a big event planned for Nov. 25 at which we will showcase German technology to our local partners to highlight the potential as there is a huge market here.” A memorandum of understanding has already been signed to enhance cooperation in this field.

The food sector is another very important area in which Germany would like to enhance cooperation with Saudi Arabia, Samra-Rohte added. The Kingdom ranks 35th on the list of German trading partners in terms of exports, Samra-Rohte said. The Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority issued 16 new licenses for German companies in 2017, 19 in 2018 and four so far this year. In all, 189 German companies are registered with SAGIA, she added.

Interpack, a leading international trade event for the packaging industry will be held in the German city of Düsseldorf in May next year, is already totally booked out, Samra-Rohte said. For the first time, the issue of saving food will be an important part of the event, including a number of campaigns focusing on ways to reduce food losses and waste, and getting the public directly involved in the issue. -AN