Opportunities in the Middle East and N. Africa

Posted by: Doug Bruhnke on Friday, April 27, 2018

Global Chamber has weekly webinars/globinars for our members to share global business knowledge and expertise... in order for all of us to be more successful. Be global and UNSTOPPABLE!

Last week we had a discussion on the business opportunities in the Middle East and Northern Africa for exporters, importers and cross-border investors looking to be more successful. It's a conversation about the latest new business opportunities and economic outlook in this region. At the event we shared an overview and then did deeper dive in Jordan and some other specific countries - click the link HERE to watch and listen.

There were 5 minute presentations by the following experts, followed by questions and answers.

  • Amer Nasereddin - Primus (Amman, Jordan)
  • Habib Amine Benabdallah - Vivo Energy (Casablanca, Morocco)
  • Kirk Galster - Global Advisor at Global Chamber Djibouti
  • Öykü Korkmaz Ataçoğlu (Istanbul, Turkey)

Enjoy the conversation! Click the link above. See some supplemental questions below the bios.

Speaker Biographies 

Amer Nasereddin - Co-Founder, VP and Chief Marketing Officer at PrimusWith over Seventeen years of experience in the local & Regional markets, Mr. Nasereddin is an expert in business development, marketing and networking. He is also highly skilled in identifying potential market expansions, and has demonstrated this by expanding Primus’ presence in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Qatar and Palestine, and training the staff at each of these locations. a regional company and market leader with a specialized focus on software solutions, consultancy and IT infrastructure services based in Amman, Jordan.His vision and foresight have contributed immensely towards Primus becoming one of the top software development companies in the Region. Mr. Nasereddin has been involved in the creation of number of companies spanning several industries and sectors. He acted as board member and co-founder of ConsultUs (2009-2012), a regional consulting firm specialized in economic growth, water, health, energy and renewable energy. He also supported the creation of one of Jordan’s top copywriting and translation houses - Write Path LLC content consultants, as an angel investor and board member (2009-2013). Furthermore, he is a board member at Consultel, a leading broadcast and telecommunications company with over thirty years of market presence. Mr. Nasereddin is a member of several organizations, the American Chamber of Commerce (AMMCHAM), the Young Entrepreneurs Association (YEA), the Jordan British Society. Today, Mr. Nasereddin acts as the President Elect 2017/2018 for the Jordan Chapter of the Entrepreneurs Organization (EO) and Chairman and Sub Committee Chapter Launches for EO Global. For the past several years, Mr. Nasereddin has also been mentoring the younger generation of entrepreneurs through his voluntary association with Endeavor Jordan. He holds a BA in Business Administration with a Marketing concentration from the University of Washington in Seattle.

Habib Amine Benabdallah - Convenience Retail Manager for Africa at Vivo EnergyHabib is an MBA graduate from thunderbird University, 2003. He has started his career as Marketing Manager at a rent-to-own chain (Rent- a-center) then worked for Shell in various roles and geographies. First in Morocco as convenience retail manager, then Customer center Manager for Europe in Rotterdam. Following that, he worked in re-imaging/re-positioning projects for Shell lubricants in middle-East and Central Asia out of Dubai. His current role is in Casablanca as Alliance manager for the 1800+ Shell-branded sites in Africa. 

Kirk Galster - Global Advisory, Djibouti at Global Chamber & Director at Global Strategies Consulting Services. Kirk is a life long learner who loves to read and keep up on current events. His expertise in International Affairs and Global Enterprise allow him to analyze complex political, legal, cultural, and strategic issues for any organization ranging from corporations, non profits, and government entities. This along with his background in military intelligence trained in the U.S. Army, has equipped Kirk to handle a variety of issues regarding risk management and strategic decision making. Being able to analyze complex issues utilizing all sources of information or data from geographic, economic, political, or cultural interaction allows him to be competitive in any industry. Kirk interests are in economic development using market based solutions and my research has focused on violent conflict and the relationship with economics.

Öykü Korkmaz Ataçoğlu - Business Strategy and Public Relations Executive. Born and raised in Istanbul. Öykü completed her undergraduate and graduate study in Istanbul University, Department of Economics. In 1999, she went to Exeter University, UK for academic research and received her master’s degree in 2000, with her thesis titled as “International Capital Flows and Foreign Capital in Turkey”. Öykü then worked at the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce for 13 years as Chief of Economic and Social Research Department Coordinator of Transnational Relations Department and President Advisor. She was responsible of organizing meetings and seminars; hosting trade delegations, organizing Buyers-Sellers Meetings, preparing research and reports specifically on the issues of Economic Structure of the World and Turkey; preparing Economic Report; working in preparation and publishing process of books on various sectoral and other researches; preparing speeches and briefings for the Members of the Board and for the President.  Afterwards, Öykü worked as Secretary General of Turkey White Goods Industry Association (TURKBESD). She was representative of the Association at the official and private institutions in the presence of third parties. She was member of; Durable Consumer Goods Committee in TOBB (The Union Of Chambers And Commodity Exchanges of Turkey); Electricity and Electronics Industry Technical Committee in Ministry of Science Industry and Trade European Committee of Domestic Equipment Manufacturers. (CECED). She is a fluent speaker of English and German.


Supplemental Questions

1) Could you talk more about infrastructure projects we should know about in the region?

Kirk (Djibouti): Djibouti has a few infrastructure projects happening. The biggest is possibly the rail way from the port to Ethiopia, it is a passenger train I think, but I also think there are cargo trains that will be utilized for trade. For a more updated list of all the current projects related to port activity please see this list here: http://www.portdedjibouti.com/mega-projects/

Habib (Morocco): There are hundreds of infrastructure projects happening in Morocco I cannot list all of them, from ports, to highways, to new cities, to fast train, to renewable energy… Please be specific on industry/sector and I will be happy to help.

Oyku (Turkey): These 3 link will give some detailed information about infrastructure projects in Turkey.




2) Is your country/region involved in the China Belt and Road initiative and how?

Kirk (Djibouti): Not exactly sure if projects are related to that specific initiative, but China did build a rail way and it seems that China is very involved in rail, paved road, and other key infrastructure development in Djibouti including ports.

Habib (Morocco): Yes we are. The silk road/china belt is indeed going through Morocco as a cheaper hub to serve Europe. Morocco has agreed with the Chinese to build a brand new industrial city (1 billion USD in infrastructure of city alone) close to the biggest port in the Mediterranean sea called Tanger Med. from this hub, intention is to incentivize Chinese companies to set up manufacturing there and export to Europe and Africa from there. Of course plenty of incentives are offered to attract them.



3) How do you approach language and multicultural barriers?

Kirk (Djibouti): Learn French/ or bring a French interpreter. Understand Somali people are very aggressive. You sort of have to be aggressive back a little bit in dealing with them. Don't do anything offensive according to Islam. (shake/eat with left hand, show the bottom of your feet, anything with pork or forbidden food etc)

Habib (Morocco): In this day and age, challenges with language and cultures are becoming less relevant as you will find English speakers anywhere you go and through social media, people understand different cultures much better. Of course, there are still many differences on how business is conducted. Nonetheless, people no longer would take offense on cultural differences. I have traveled to 50 countries, done business in over half of my trips and I can tell you that I am amazed how global the world has become. There still be books, professors and consultants telling you about the business etiquette in each part of the world but if you keep an open and curious mind, you will be fine everywhere!

Oyku (Turkey): Turkey occupies a unique geographic position, lying partly in Asia and partly in Europe. Throughout its history it has acted as both a barrier and a bridge between the two continents. In addition; there is no state religion in Turkey. The Constitution of the Republic of Turkey states very clearly that the affairs of the nation are operated without the interference of religion, hence Turkey’s secular rule. Therefore, there isn’t  got a huge multicultural barriers to obstruct the business. Turkish people are hospitable, polite and extremely professional. Turks like to get acquainted with the people they will work and do business with. They will most likely do business with those they are able to trust and those that can provide a long term relationship. And most of the white collar workers could speak English well.



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