The first conference of Business Owners Union (BOU) held in Jeddah, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during the period 20 – 21 August concluded its works in the presence of over 500 businessmen and businesswomen in the OIC countries. It had been attended by H.E Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu,Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Sheikh Saleh Abdullah Kamel, President of the Islamic Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Dr. Ahmed Mohammed Ali, president of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), in addition to large participation from mega trade, industrial and service companies, heads of 17 banks and financial institutions, and heads of chambers of commerce and industry in the Islamic countries.
On the sidelines of the conference, an exhibition had been organized for displaying the Islamic products. Many Islamic countries participated in it including: Egypt, Turkey, Malaysia, Yemen, Bahrain, Jordan, Palestine, Iran, Afghanistan ,Kazakhstan, Sudan, Mauritania, Uganda, Bangladesh,Albania, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
At the opening of the Conference, H.E Sheikh Saleh Kamel, President of the Islamic Chamber of Commerce& Industry and Chairman of Business Owners Union in the OIC member States, welcomed the attendees, saying in his speech: "since 2006, I have sought to adopt the scientific approach and sound planning in the Islamic Chamber, So we have managed to develop ten-year work plan in broad lines. And to achieve these goals, we tailored them into objectives and, implementing mechanisms. The key pillar in preparing the plan is the common interests since they are the language of the times and the real tongue of every man pursues success."
Dr. Ahmed Mohammed Ali, president of the Islamic Development Bank delivered speech, saying that this conference came in a time the whole world suffers from the global economic downturn. So the IDB believes that the business community should assume the responsibility of supporting the Islamic nation in facing the difficulties of these crises and also prepare itself for encountering any possible emerging challenges. He gave three detailed explanation for three challenges related to promotion of investment, employment of young people and the elimination of unemployment and poverty, including: food security, investment and intra-trade, and the framework of partnerships and collective work.
Dr. Ali called on businessmen in the OIC countries to exert efforts and develop proposals and initiatives in vital fields in the life of the Islamic Ummah. He shed light on three axes related to the response to what crisis bear of opportunities and challenges. The first focuses on creativity and innovation to encourage the economic growth by using developmental alternatives in investment in infrastructure and intra-trade in the OIC Member States. The second revolves on the role of business community in immunizing the poor from the impacts of the financial crises and climate change, in addition to reliving the victim of fragility and disputes. The third axis concentrates on enhancing competitiveness, enriching partnerships by attracting institutions from the international emerging economic powers.
For his part, H.E Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), said that the convention of the first annual BOU conference in the OIC countries synchronized with the Organization's review of the mid-term of its ten-year work program that was adopted at the Extraordinary Islamic Summit Conference held in Makkah Al Mukarramah in 2005, and this by turn gave the conference special importance.
"The main activities endorsed in the economic agenda of the OIC are enhancing the intra-Islamic trade, achieving wealth inside the Organization's countries, alleviating poverty, building capacity, encouraging investment, developing infrastructure so as to meet the need to promoting cooperation among south-south countries, focusing on improving the performance of the national economies of the Member States."
BOU called for giving due attention to the necessity of forming broader membership represents the business sector as a whole in the Islamic countries through the participation of the federation and chambers in planning and implementing the OIC's activities including the institutions involved in economic cooperation , key among them is the Standing Committee of Trade and Economic Cooperation (COMCEC).
Four working sessions had been held during the conference which concluded its works on Saturday 21 August. The attendees tackled the role of their countries and the affiliated companies in enhancing the volume of intra-trade and increasing the national product for each city in the countries of the Organization of Islamic Conference. They also talked about their countries' contributions to the studies, researches, encouraging inventions and innovation, and marketing the investment projects and business agencies.
It is worthy to mention that Business Owners Union is one of the most important mechanisms of the Islamic Chamber that aimed at building umbrella for businessmen and private sector in the OIC countries and Muslim minorities and communities to encourage investments, develop intra-trade and coordinate the policies and trade and investment activities in order to employ the youth of the nation and thus reduce unemployment and increase the gross national product of Islamic countries.