04 March 2016
JEDDAH: The public-private partnership(PPP) theme of Jeddah Economic Forum (JEF 2016), which concluded on Thursday after a three-day run, has received widespread support from the local, regional and international speakers and delegates. Most of them were of the view that the theme was apt for this year's edition of JEF in the context of the Kingdom's ambitious development and diversification plans following low oil prices. While many speakers said they thoroughly enjoyed presenting their experiences and success stories, the delegates were of the view that the forum sessions were very rewarding in terms of information and education.

Talking about JEF 2016, Husain Rajeh Al-Zahrani, general manager, Makkah Region branch of the Ministry of Housing, said: "We gain from such forums. The participation of Turkey is very important. They have many mega projects. They are very successful. So why can't projects be successful here?" Kamal H. Shukri, attorney at law, at Kamal Hussein Shukri & Associates Law Firm, said two successful countries -- Malaysia and Turkey - are participating in this forum along with some other countries. Public-private partnership (PPP) is very important to Saudi Arabia to stimulate the economy but our own criterions and capabilities as well as available opportunities should be considered on priority." "There is a huge market in our country that has potential to implement such projects between the government and private sectors.

There should always be time to measure the performance and quality of the outcomes to make it more efficient and cost-effective with available experiences, technologies and resources. Saudi youth are well educated but they need more training and direction to succeed. Shukri said infrastructure for both the public and private sectors should be unified in order to have smooth transition with necessary regulations and laws. Philipp Schonbrunn-Knappmann, couselor, head of economic affairs, Embassy of Germany, Riyadh, said this year's JEF has been very interesting. Philipp, who had to first JEF experience as a participant observed that the speakers at the forum are very valuable.

Hisham Kassim Hariri, security and safety director of the new King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA) project, said the cutting-edge project will create a benchmark that symbolizes the forward thinking and ambitious plans of Saudi Arabia. Hariri said the new airport will greatly enhance the passenger experience. The KAIA, already the gateway to the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah, is heading toward becoming an international hub. The new airport with the space of 810,000 sqm will have capacity of 30 million passengers a year. Amr Shakeeb Al-Amawi, owner of Shakeeb Beach Resort & Spa, said this year's forum has been very well arranged. He said the PPP theme is very good so people should understand what it involves.

If the private sector understands the theme, we can then go successfully forward. He also mentioned that awareness should be created about what direction the country is taking. Nasir Abu Sarhad of Abusarhad, who also found PPP as the apt theme of the forum, said the idea of both the public and private sectors competing with each other is good but they should work together. The private sector should play a bigger role in the Kingdom's economic development. Mahmood Muhammad of Dallah Al-Baraka Group unit said the Turkish and Malaysian success stories are very impressive. Both countries are participating at this year's forum in Jeddah. Definitely we learn from their experiences.

Nael S. Fayez, head of business development, Jadat Itqan Consulting, said the privatization process is definitely going forward in Saudi Arabia. He added privatization can lead to new markets. He said Saudi Arabia is part of G-20 and expanding depth of its economy. Arvid Mahajan, partner, head of infrastructure and government services, KPMG Advisory Services Pvt. Ltd., who was one of the panelists at the JEF, said the forum is very impressive with the fact that it brings in key people of the government and private sectors from Saudi Arabia and foreign countries. "This year's PPP theme is very timely in Saudi Arabia's perspective. It is important that all the government departments are speaking in a consistent manner."

Anne de Pazzis Treatment Infrastructure, head of BOT Activity, executive vice president of Suez, said this year's forum is very impressive with the PPP theme. It is not an easy topic. There is some freedom of speech. I found it enthusiastic and promising for the future of Saudi Arabia. Pascal Grante, deputy GM og MaSa, which is a subsidiary of Marafiq and Saur, said it is very interesting to see the evolution of PPP interest in Saudi Arabia. There is a great potential in these areas. Talking about this year's JEF theme, Nidal A. Jamjoom, managing director and CEO of Kinan, said this is the beginning of a new era of collaboration between the public and private sectors. He said there is a big focus on public and participation.

Alper Apaydin, CEO of API Investment, said: "Firstly I was very pleased to be one of the speakers during the forum. I liked the organization and the PPP subject was very suitable in general, as also because of the global economic situation, and there is no doubt that PPP models are highly important for Saudi Arabia and for the world economies in the current economic context, caused by the financial crisis which began in 2007 and by the economic downturn that it triggered, the interest in developing projects through PPPs is growing. There is no question mark for the world's real estate market; the events of recent years have represented one of the greatest slowdowns since long and had a devastating impact on the availability of public resources in the world.

In this scenario, there is a clear need for the establishment of advanced, innovative approaches in order to avoid delays in execution of real estate projects, which are highly capital-intensive and in order to ensure quality and cost-effective service delivery. "As a participant from Turkey, I tried to give valuable examples from Turkey for the PPPs in the real estate and housing industry, which can be modeled for the Kingdom such as Emlak Konut and TOKI models of the Turkish government.

© Arab News 2016