Riyadh Witnesses Launch of 1st European Chamber of Commerce

The European Chamber of Commerce in Saudi Arabia, led by Lorcan Tyrrell, will officially launch in Riyadh on Wednesday. SPA
The European Chamber of Commerce in Saudi Arabia, led by Lorcan Tyrrell, will officially launch in Riyadh on Wednesday. SPA
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Riyadh Witnesses Launch of 1st European Chamber of Commerce

The European Chamber of Commerce in Saudi Arabia, led by Lorcan Tyrrell, will officially launch in Riyadh on Wednesday. SPA
The European Chamber of Commerce in Saudi Arabia, led by Lorcan Tyrrell, will officially launch in Riyadh on Wednesday. SPA

The European Chamber of Commerce in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (ECCKSA) will officially launch in Riyadh on Wednesday. The chamber aims to strengthen economic, investment, and trade ties between the European Union, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf states.

Before the launch, ECCKSA Chairman Lorcan Tyrrell highlighted that the Chamber’s formation followed over a year of collaborative efforts with EU and Saudi officials.

Q: When will the work of the European-Saudi Chamber of Commerce officially begin? Is there a specific commercial, investment or economic project with which the Chamber’s work will be launched?
Work has been ongoing by the EU Delegation and Founding Group Members for over 12 months. Following a very proactive dialogue with European and Saudi Government Officials, we are now in a position to open our organization to Members. Our Founding Group Members have been volunteering in their capacity to see us reach this part of the journey and are now transitioned to the First Board of the First European Chamber of Commerce in GCC.
There are emerging priorities that we may focus on in our sectoral committees. However, there is a unique opportunity for our new members to shape the voice and priorities of the Chamber of Commerce with Governements and Policy makers in both KSA and Europe. Two areas of focus just at the moment include the Green Transition Programme to help utilize best sustainability processes and green energy solutions as well as Women in Leadership which are active programmes within the EU-GCC dialogue.
Q: What facilities will the chamber provide to the business sector on both sides?
We will focus on three key priorities. Our primary focus will be on business positioning. Highlighting the key priorities for policy makers to focus on through position papers for example. This will be supported through advocacy and working group engagement with Ministries and Enterprise Agencies. Our secondary focus shall be around facilitating members to join the Chamber and to provide events for networking and publications to support the members businesses. All of this will then be supported through our tertiary priority which is to link back to EU and KSA to remove barriers to accessing the market. This may for example include helpdesks to help companies navigate the right channels to doing business in Saudi.
It should be highlighted as part of these priorities that we will also be opening bi-lateral communications into Europe for Saudi businesses to share their knowledge in services and goods and grow the trade channel in both directions.
Q: What are the most prominent challenges that the Chamber will work to find solutions for? 
Facilitate dialogue between the stakeholders that have enabled this initiative and the Members / Businesses that will join.
Seek opportunities to increase localization and for Saudi businesses to prosper through European Businesses being present in KSA.
Remove existing obstacles to trade in areas that our members currently experience and share good innovative solutions that businesses have found to be positive.
Q: Will the Chamber have any role in launching a free trade zone in the region?
This is not something that we are currently involved in. We will meet the various Ministries of Government to ensure we listen and prioritize key initiatives. This will be reflected through our Members and the European Government.
Q: What are your expectations for an increase in the growth rate of trade and investment during the year 2024?
We expect that a European Chamber of Commerce will focus on the sectoral opportunities within KSA. So for example if we look at Energy we will focus on how we can join the Energy and Utilities sector together with a unified voice and increase opportunities to prosper and trade more. This is equally the case on how KSA is perhaps in a position to export energy solutions to Europe that are not part of the oil industry such as green hydrogen fuels.
 



Lebanon Tourism Season Revives Economic Outlook

People are seen at the arrival lounge at Beirut International Airport, Lebanon. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
People are seen at the arrival lounge at Beirut International Airport, Lebanon. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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Lebanon Tourism Season Revives Economic Outlook

People are seen at the arrival lounge at Beirut International Airport, Lebanon. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
People are seen at the arrival lounge at Beirut International Airport, Lebanon. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

The surge in visitors to Lebanon during Eid al-Adha and high demand for summer concert bookings are boosting hopes for a revival in tourism.

This sector is crucial for reigniting positive economic growth after about nine months of challenging conditions due to the Gaza war and subsequent border clashes between Hezbollah and Israel in southern Lebanon.

Contrary to earlier fears this month of possible Israeli strikes inside Lebanon, Ali Hamieh, caretaker Minister of Public Works and Transport, reported a daily average of 14,000 arrivals at Beirut’s Rafic Hariri International Airport, with numbers on the rise.

Jean Abboud, President of the Association of Travel and Tourism Agents, confirmed that despite initial concerns, booking rates have bounced back to 90-95% after Israeli threats of a mid-month strike. Most arrivals are Lebanese expatriates and foreign workers.

Before the summer season’s anticipated surge, Lebanon saw a 5.37% decrease in arrivals, with air traffic down by 9.34% and passenger numbers at Beirut International Airport dropping by 6.84% in the first five months of this year, totaling 2.29 million travelers compared to 2.46 million last year.

These declines were linked to the border clashes.

Lebanon’s tourism sector, generating over $5 billion annually in recent years, ranks as the country’s second most vital revenue stream after expatriate remittances, which officially approach $7 billion.

Together, they contribute more than half of Lebanon’s national income, which has dropped sharply from about $55 billion to under $22 billion due to the ongoing financial and currency crises that erupted five years ago.

Despite significant losses during peak tourism seasons like Christmas, Easter, and Eid al-Fitr, a report by Bank Audi indicated that Lebanon’s tourism revenues lost over $1 billion in the first six months of the Gaza conflict, driven by a 24% drop in tourist arrivals.

On average, tourists spend around $3,000 during their stay in Lebanon.