“Ultimate Gathering of Saudi and American Businesses”

Published: November 20, 2011

Share Article

Editor’s Note:

The U.S.-Saudi Business Opportunities forum set for December 5-7, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia is the second event of its kind. The inaugural business forum, organized by the Riyadh-based Committee for International Trade, the U.S.-Saudi Arabian Business Council and the Saudi-US Trade Group was held in Chicago in April 2010 and resulted in a landmark gathering of Saudi and American officials and business people.

Today we are pleased to bring you a second look at an exclusive interview SUSRIS had on the sidelines of the 2010 Chicago forum with distinguished Saudi businessman and member of the Saudi Shura Council Usamah Al-Kurdi, in which he shares his assessment of both the value of the event — “the ultimate gathering of Saudi and American businesses” — and the scale of the commercial opportunities beckoning Americans to the Kingdom. Al-Kurdi serves on the Economic and Energy Affairs Committee and as Chairman of the Saudi-American Friendship Committee of the Shura Council.

Click Image For More

We commend to your review the unparalleled agenda and stellar billing of speakers and participants at the upcoming Atlanta event [www.us-saudiforum.com] and you will begin to appreciate Eng. Al-Kurdi’s assessment, “I have often said that the American business community may have missed the boat but I have regained my confidence with this conference.”  [Also check out the SUSRIS exclusive interview with Eng. Al-Kurdi about the February 2012 International Trade Expo. (Link)] A snapshot of the Atlanta Forum agenda follows below.


[Originally published by SUSRIS on April 28, 2010]

Business Forum Perspectives: A Conversation with Usamah Al-Kurdi

SUSRIS: Given your history of building bridges in the relationship, what does it mean to you  to see an event like this [Chicago US-Saudi Business Opportunities Forum] with over one thousand Americans and Saudis together to talk about business opportunities and also about the relationship?

Usamah Al-Kurdi

Usamah Al-Kurdi: I will confidently call this the ultimate gathering of Saudi and American businesses. It shows it without any doubt, not only in terms of the number of people present, but also in the issues being discussed and the networking that is taking place. It is the ultimate grouping in terms of showing the serious interest the business people in these two countries have in each other.

It also shows a heightened level of understanding among the American business community of what Saudi Arabia has to offer. What Saudi Arabia has to offer is something that the American business community knew for many, many years. But what is unique now is what Saudi Arabia has gone through in the past few years, which continues, in terms of reforming the economy and opening new business opportunities especially to foreign investors. Things like reducing the taxation on foreign investors in Saudi Arabia and the ability of foreigners to own 100% of their operations in Saudi Arabia along with the formation of so many private sector supporting organizations.

Of course the long list of projects – approaching one trillion Saudi Riyals – has attracted the attention of the American business community. We hope that as a result of this there will be much more interest by American businesses in Saudi Arabia. Mind you, the rest of the world has already done that. The rest of the world has realized the potential Saudi Arabia has – Asia, Europe, Australia, the Americas. They are coming to Saudi Arabia in droves. I have never seen such an interest in Saudi Arabia as I see now. It is especially noteworthy as it comes in the wake of the financial crisis.

I have often said that the American business community may have missed the boat but I have regained my confidence with this conference.


By and About Usamah Al-Kurdi on SUSRIS:



[Agenda as of Nov 20, 2011 – Check the Conference Web Site www.us-saudiforum.com for the up to date information and to register.]


Monday, December 5, 2011

12:00 PM Registration opens
4:00 PM Workshop:  Investing in Georgia
Gretchen Corbin, Deputy Commissioner, Georgia Department of Economic Development, State of Georgia
Workshop:  Doing Business in Saudi Arabia:  An Insider’s View for New to Market Companies
Moderator:  Michael Auflick, Saudi Aramco (confirmed)
Rami Alturki, President, Khalid Ali Alturki & Sons Co (confirmed)
Khalid Al Abdulkarim, CEO, Al Abdulkarim Holding (confirmed)
Fred Stewart, Managing Director, VSD Global LLC (confirmed)
Michael McKinzie, Vice President, Industrial Services & Contracts, Abdulla Fouad Holding Co. (confirmed)
5-6:30 PM Reception:  Omni Hotel Atrium
7:00 PM SPEAKERS DINNER:  The World of Coca-Cola Forum Sponsors, Speakers, and Host Committee
Introduction:  Dennis Lockhart, Chairman and CEO, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta (confirmed)
Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO, The Coca-Cola Company (confirmed) 
H.E. Abdullah Alireza, Minister of Commerce and Industry (confirmed)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

7:30 AM Registration and Coffee
8:30 AM OPENING REMARKS: Setting the Theme
Lubna Olayan, CEO, Olayan Financing Company (confirmed)
The Honorable Kasim Reed, Mayor of Atlanta (confirmed)
9:00 AM PLENARY DISCUSSION – Education:  Investing in Human Capital 
Moderator: Steve Clemons, Director, American Strategy Program, New America Foundation (confirmed)
H.H. Prince Faisal Bin Abdullah Al-Saud, Minister of Education (confirmed)
The Honorable Anthony Miller, Deputy Secretary, Department of Education (confirmed)
H.E. Dr. Khaled Al-Sabti, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Education (confirmed)
The Honorable General James B. Smith, U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (confirmed)
Jeff Barnes, Chief Learning Officer, GE (confirmed)
10:00 AM Audience Discussion
10:30 AM PLENARY DISCUSSION – Maintaining a Stable Global Financial System: Shared Responsibility
Moderator:  TBD
H.E. Dr. Muhammad Al-Jasser, Governor, Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (confirmed)
Gene Sperling, Director, White House National Economic Council (invited) 
11:30 AM Audience Discussion
KEYNOTES — U.S.-Saudi Trade: Growth and Change 
Introduction:  David Seaton, CEO, Fluor Corporation (confirmed)
H.E. Abdullah Alireza, Minister of Commerce and Industry (confirmed)
The Honorable Rebecca Blank, Acting Deputy Secretary of Commerce (invited) 
Panel 1:   Higher Education as an Enabler to the Knowledge Economy
Moderator:  Dr. Abdulaziz Jazzar, Executive Partner, Malaz Group (confirmed)
H.E. Dr. Abdullah Al-Othman, Rector, King Saud University (confirmed)
Dr. Steven McLaughlin, President, Georgia Tech Global, Inc. (confirmed)
Dr. Mohammed Al-Ohali, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Higher Education (invited)
Panel 2:  Downstream Petrochemicals:  National Priority and International Opportunity 
Moderator:  Michael Dolan, Senior Vice President, ExxonMobil (confirmed)
Eng. Abdullah Saeed Bazid, Vice President for Strategic Planning, SABIC (confirmed)
Dr. Moayyed I. Al-Qurtas, Vice Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Tasnee (confirmed)
Mark Lashier, Senior Vice President, Specialties, Aromatics, & Stryenics, Chevron Phillips Chemical Company (confirmed)
Zuhair Allawi, Vice President, Dow Saudi Arabia (confirmed)
Panel 3:   Industrial Infrastructure Initiatives:  Creating the Foundation for Economic Growth
Moderator:  Dr. Abdullah Al Dabbagh, Former President & CEO, Ma’aden (confirmed)
Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, Acting Deputy Minister, Industrial Affairs, Ministry of Commerce & Industry and Director General, Saudi Industrial Property Authority (Modon) (confirmed)
Dr. Mosleh Hamad Al-Otaibi, Chief Executive Officer, Royal Commission in Jubail (confirmed)
Kenneth Wisnoski, President, Growth, Energy, Bauxite and Africa, Alcoa (confirmed)
Ahmed S. Osilan, Chief of Staff and International Operations,SAGIA (confirmed)
Monte Wilson, Senior Vice President and Director, HOK Planning Group (confirmed)
Workshop:  Opportunities in Agriculture
Moderator:  Eng. Taha Al-Shareef, Team Member, King Abdullah Initiative for Agro-Investment Abroad, Ministry of Commerce and Industry (confirmed)
Abdullah Al-Hamoudi, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Commerce and Industry (confirmed)
Dr. Abdullah Al Obaid, Deputy Minister for Research and Agricultural Development, Ministry of Agriculture (confirmed)
Loyd Harbert, Deputy Administrator, Office of Country and Regional Affairs, U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service (confirmed)
3:45 PM Networking Break
Panel 4:  Opportunities for Finance and Investment
Moderator:  Yahya Al-Yahya, CEO, Gulf International Bank (confirmed) 
Secretary William Cohen, Chairman and CEO, Cohen Group (confirmed)
Alberto Verme, CEO of Europe, Middle East, and Africa, Citigroup (confirmed)
Ahmed Al-Khateeb, CEO, Jadwa Investment (confirmed)
Panel 5:  The Saudi K-12 Education Reform: Setting the Stage to the Knowledge Society   
Moderator: TBD
Dr. Ali S. Al-Hakami, General Manager, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Public Education Reform Project (confirmed)
Dr. Abdullatif Al-Ghaith, CEO, Tatweer Holding Company (confirmed)
Nawal Othman Al-Kowaiter, Consultant of Girls Education, Ministry of Education (confirmed)
Ali Othaim, Founder, Gulf Rose Group (Prince Salman Entrepreneurs Awards) (confirmed)
Panel 6:  Business Opportunities in the Oil, Gas, and Petrochemicals Sector
Moderator:  Joseph Anis, President, GE Middle East (confirmed)
Munir Rafie, Vice President of Materials Supply, Saudi Aramco (confirmed)
Khaled Juraifani, Director of the Localization & Clusters Department of New Business Development, Saudi Aramco (confirmed)
Mark Blinn, President & CEO, Flowserve Corporation (invited)
Donald Chen, Parent Company Representative to Sadara Chemical Company, Dow Chemical Company (confirmed)
Workshop:  Standardization & Quality
Moderator:  Abdullah Al-Hamoudi, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Commerce and Industry (confirmed)
H.E. Eng. Nabil Molla, Governor, Saudi Arabian Standards Organization (confirmed)
Dr. Patrick Gallagher, Director, National Institute of Standards and Technology (invited)
Ali O. Al-Zaid, Chairman, Aqaria Company (confirmed)
5:30 PM Close of Day 1
Introduction by:  Peter Robertson, Former Vice Chairman, Chevron and U.S. Co-Chairman, U.S.-Saudi Arabian Business Council(confirmed)
H.E. Adel Al-Jubeir, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the United States (confirmed)
Gasey Cagle, Lt. Governor, State of Georgia (invited)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

8:00 AM Registration and Coffee
8:30 AM KEYNOTES:  The National Export Initiative:  Creating Jobs Through Export Promotion
Introduction:  Sam Williams, President, Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce (invited)
Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama (invited)
9:00 AM PLENARY DISCUSSION – Health and Medical Services: Delivering Top Quality Care 
Moderator:  Dr. Selwa A.F. Al-Hazzaa, Head of the Head of the Ophthalmology Department, King Faisal Specialist Hospital(confirmed)
H.E. Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, Minister of Health (confirmed)
David Satcher, Director, The Satcher Health Leadership Institute, Morehouse School of Medicine, former U.S. Surgeon General(confirmed)
John Dineen, President and CEO, GE Healthcare (invited)
10:00 AM PLENARY SESSION – Nuclear and Renewable Energy:  Building Resources for the Future
Moderator:  Dr. Abdullah Al Dabbah, Former President & CEO, Ma’aden (confirmed)
H. E. Dr. Hashim Abdullah Yamani, President, King Abdullah City for Nuclear and Renewable Energy (confirmed)
The Honorable Daniel Poneman, Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy (confirmed)
J. M. Bernhard Jr., Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Shaw Group Inc. (confirmed)
James Suciu, President, Global Sales, GE Energy (confirmed) 
James Brown, President, First Solar Utility Systems (confirmed)
11:30 AM Audience Discussion
KEYNOTES:  Strategies to Facilitate Bilateral Trade Opportunities
Introduction by: Dr. Abdulaziz Fahad, Chairman, Committee for International Trade (confirmed)
Dr. Lama Al-Suleiman, Vice Chairman, Jeddah Chamber of Commerce & Industry (confirmed)
2:30 PM CONCURRENT PANELS – Session Three
Panel 7:  Building the Healthcare Sector through Innovation and Technology 
Moderator:  H.E. Dr. Majed Al-Kassabi, Director General, Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud Humanitarian City (confirmed)
Dr. Emad Abdulaziz Eldukair, Founder & CEO, The Care Group (confirmed)
Walid Fataihi, CEO, International Medical Center (confirmed)
Loay Nazer, Chairman, Nazer Group and Board Member, Health Insurance Council (confirmed)
Dr. Scott McNabb, Visiting Professor, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University (confirmed)
Panel 8:  Providing Water and Electricity Needs in a Growing Economy
Moderator:  Dr. Fareed M. Zedan, Former Governor, Electricity & Co-Generation Regulatory Authority (confirmed)
Ali Saleh Al-Barrak, President and CEO, Saudi Electricity Company (confirmed)
Abdullateef Al Harkan, General Manager of Human Resources, SWCC (confirmed)
Hisham Bahkali, Country Executive, GE Energy Saudi Arabia (confirmed)
Michael Train, President, Emerson Process Control (invited)
Panel 9:  Developing World-class Capabilities in Transportation, Supply Chain, and Logistics 
Moderator:  Robert Morris, Senior Director of External Affairs, Georgia Ports Authority (invited)
H.E. Eng. Khaled Almolhem, General Manager, Saudi Arabian Airlines (confirmed)
Dr. Faisal Ali Al-Zeban, Assistant Deputy Minister, Ministry of Transportation (confirmed)
Louis Miller, Director, Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport (confirmed)
Mike Paul, Vice President, Logistics, SupplyCore Middle East (invited)
Panel 10:   Entrepreneurship and the Development of SMEs
Moderator:  Benjamin Newland, Partner, King and Spalding (confirmed)
Suresh Kumar, Assistant Secretary and Director General for the Foreign Commercial Service, U.S. Department of Commerce(confirmed)
Leonard Schlesinger, President, Babson College, Former Chairman Limited brands (confirmed)
Mohammed Hammouda, Director, Kafala Program, Saudi Industrial Development Fund (confirmed)
Abdullah Al-Mutrif, Managing Partner, PRO TECHnology KSA (confirmed)
Omar Mohammed Baker, Saudi Entrepreneur (confirmed)
4:15 PM Break
4:30 PM CLOSING SESSION:  Perspectives on U.S.-Saudi Relations
Introduction:  Wyche Fowler, former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia (confirmed)
H.E. Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Saeed, Advisor, Royal Court (confirmed)
Fred Hochberg, Chairman and President, Export-Import Bank of the United States (invited)
5:00 PM Forum Ends
5:30 PM IMAX FILM “Arabia” — Fernbank Museum (ticket required to board bus)