Speech By Dr N Varaprasad, Chief Executive, National Library Board At The Launch Of Rihlah Busines Seminar - “Doing Business In The Middle East” On 10 March 2010, 9:00am At The Possibility Room, Level 5, National Library Building

Speech By Dr N Varaprasad, Chief Executive, National Library Board At The Launch Of Rihlah Busines Seminar - “Doing Business In The Middle East” On 10 March 2010, 900am At The Possibility Room, Level 5, National Library Building

Release Date : 10 Mar 2010

Mr Tan Poh Teck, Deputy Executive Officer, Singapore Business Federation

Distinguished speakers,

Ladies and gentlemen,

1. A very good morning to all of you! It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the Rihlah Business Seminar organised by the National Library.

2. Singapore enjoys strong and warm relations with the Middle East and this can be seen through the flurry of high-level bilateral visits between the two regions when then-Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong paved the way for engagement in 2004.

3. With the bilateral engagement between Singapore and countries in the Middle East, business ventures and opportunities have been on the rise. Between the years 2004 and 2009, the total trade figures between Singapore and Middle East increased from S$24m to S$32m, an increase of 30%. Today, tremendous growth opportunities still exist between Singapore and the Middle East as both regions tap on each other's strengths and resources.

4. Against this positive backdrop of growing business opportunities in the Middle East, this Rihlah Business Seminar is intended to equip participants with information on the Middle East business landscape. Our distinguished speakers from the various fields of business, banking and economy will share with us their perspectives on doing business in the Middle East. The topics will range from exploring business opportunities to gaining market access and promoting exports to the region.

5. The global business environment today calls for more than just having information, facts and figures at one's fingertips and monitoring trends and developments. It's about deriving value and synergy from the information and knowledge at hand to spark new product or service ideas and create business possibilities. I am pleased to say that the National Library is uniquely positioned to play a role in this creation of economic value through our knowledge and information resources.

6. Our Senior Business Librarian, Elizabeth Lam, will share with you later in the seminar, both our digital and print information resources on the Middle East available at our National Library. Some of the online resources that are extremely valuable to exploring business opportunities in the Middle East market include "OneSource", "Business Monitor Online" and "MarketLine business information center".

7. As for the National Library's print collection, titles such as "Business and management environment in Saudi Arabia", "Bahrain's business environment" and "Qatar: a country study guide" are useful materials to help businesses in their market research and to have a better understanding of the Middle East environment and culture.

8. I hope this seminar will give you insights to doing business in the Middle East and serve as a platform for dialogue with the many experts and leaders present here.

9. This seminar on the Middle East is just an appetiser to more interesting programmes to come. I am pleased to inform you that the National Library will be running an exhibition on "Rihlah: Arabs in Southeast Asia" and a conference entitled: "Islam, Trade And Culture: The Roles Of The Arabs In Southeast Asia" next month. The six-month exhibition will present historical information about the social, economic and cultural links between the Middle East and Singapore, including the Southeast Asia region. The two-day conference will bring together experts on the subject of the Arabs, to study and discuss their role in Southeast Asia.

10. Last but not least, I would like to thank our co-organiser, IE Singapore and partners like the Middle East Institute and Singapore Business Federation for their generous support and contribution in making today's seminar possible. I would also like to thank the committee members from NLB for organising this seminar with much enthusiasm.

11. I wish you an insightful and fruitful time at this seminar. Thank you.