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Saudi Arabia - World Businessmen ready for UK Conference

7 November 2009 at 01:26 | 495 views

By Alhaji Jalloh, Riyadh.

As part of its giant strides to showcase some investment opportunities to potential investors, the Sierra Leone Embassy in Riyadh- Saudi Arabia has succeeded in wooing some high profile international businessmen for the donor conference scheduled for 18th and 19th at the Queen Elizabeth 11 Conference Center, Westminster, London.

Among them are, Mr. Ammar Marouf of Syrian Investment Group ( SIG) in Damascus – Syria, Nigerian business tycoon, Chief Sir A.C. Okafor, CEO of Chicason Group on Bisola Durosinmi Drive, Lagos. Another top Saudi businessman contacted is, His Royal Highness, Prince Waleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Al-Suad of the Kingdom Holding.

Earlier, Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the Arabian capital, H.E. Wusu Munu circulated letters and copies of brochure on investment opportunities in Sierra Leone entitled “Investment In Sierra Leone”.

The brochure contained very informative, educative and inspirational issues for doing business in Sierra Leone. “The conference will send a clear signal that Sierra Leone is politically stable and secure and it will emphasize the country’s efforts to become more attractive investment destination,” remarked the Ambassador, H.E. Wusu B. Munu.

According to the Government of Sierra Leone, it will present its new Agenda for Change (the second Poverty Reduction Strategy for Sierra Leone) including progress made on developing progress made on developing the key sectors of Agriculture, Transport, Energy and Human Development, as well as outlying the advances made in governance, gender equality issues and peace-building.

The conference being hosted by the Governments of Sierra Leone and the UK and supported by donor and corporate partners from around the world is to reinforce Government’s commitment to Private Sector led Economic Growth for Sierra Leone.

It could be recalled that President Ernest Bai Koroma and Former British Prime Minister of the Africa Governance initiative, Mr. Tony Blair finalized plans for the conference in New York on the 22nd September, 2009.

Meanwhile, the CEO and General Manager of the Islamic Corporation for the Development (ICD) of the private sector, Mr. Khalid Al-Aboodi has expressed his organizations’ willingness to cooperate with Sierra Leone private sector entities. “We are ready to explore common areas/projects for future cooperation,” says the ICD Chief.

Meanwhile, as over 500 Pilgrims from Sierra Leone are expected to arrive on board Royal Air Maroc (RAM) next week for this year’s pilgrimage in the holy city of Mecca, the Sierra Leone Embassy in Saudi Arabia has been in constant touch with the airport authorities to know the procedures that awaits our pilgrims.

According to the Director General of the King Abdulaziz International Airport, Mazen Khashoggi,the Airport and the Jeddah Islamic Port are the two principal points through which pilgrims enter and leave the Kingdom after performing the Hajj.

According to the Director General, the following awaits pilgrims on arrival:

1. The pilgrim is taken to a holding bay/waiting area immediately after he or she lands at the airport.

2. Maktab Al-Wukala staffs (also known as handling agents) attach a set of 10 bar codes to his or her passport. This is a unique code for each pilgrim.

3. The pilgrim goes through health checks. He or she is checked for swine flu and temperature is taken.

4. The pilgrim is taken to the immigration counter and gets fingerprinted and photographed. The bar code is electronically attached to his or her visa and passport details. One of the 10 bar codes is pasted near the Saudi visa sheet. The other nine stickers are used by other Haj agencies.

5. The Haji then goes to the luggage area and proceeds through customs.

6. Once the pilgrim is out, the next step is to go to the Haj Ministry counter. They take another bar code sticker to help ascertain how many pilgrims have arrived in the country at any given time.

7. The pilgrims collect bus tickets from the Maktab Al-Wukala counter for their onward journey to Makkah and/or Madinah.

8. Now just two steps away from leaving the airport, the pilgrim waits for the Transport Syndicate to announce the buses’ departure to Makkah. The transport of pilgrims to Makkah and Madinah is provided by two main bodies: the General Car Syndicate and the Office of Guides. Representatives from the United Agents’ Office will guide the pilgrims to their buses, which take them to the Pilgrims’ Grouping Center near Makkah.

The General Car Syndicate has 19,500 buses this year to provide transport for pilgrims between Jeddah, Makkah, the Holy Sites and Madinah. Of these, 340 new buses costing SR136 million are in service for the first time. The vehicles transporting pilgrims are monitored electronically through GPS so that their exact locations are known in order to provide help if required.

9. The pilgrim boards one of the buses assisted by his country’s Haj mission staff. They ensure pilgrims belonging to one particular Haj organizer are grouped together.

10. Once on the bus, the pilgrims hand over their passports to their guide, who leaves them with the Tawafa Establishment or muallim once he arrives at Makkah or Madinah. The passport stays with the muallim during the rest of the pilgrim’s stay in Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, neighbouring Guinea and Gambia Embassies in Riyadh have confirmed the arrival of some of their pilgrims, while others are reported to arrive in the next few days.