On November 22, 2016, the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) held a conference titled, "Japan's continuing challenge to partner with Middle Eastern countries in achieving development ‘Visions'", at InterContinental Dubai Festival City, commemorating the tenth anniversary of the opening of JBIC's Representative Office in Dubai.
A scene from the conference Opening address by JBIC Governor, Kondoh The congratulatory speech from Minister of Oil of Bahrain Keynote speech by JBIC's Aida Closing Address by Tamaki of JBIC Dubai Office
As the first Japanese financial institution to open a branch in Dubai, JBIC established its Dubai Representative Office (the Office) at Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) in January 2006. Marking the tenth anniversary this year, the Office has been in charge of JBIC's operations in 16 Middle Eastern and North African countries. The conference received about 160 participants, including government officials and members from financial institutions of several Middle Eastern and African countries, as well as representatives from Japanese companies.
In the opening address, Akira Kondoh, Governor of JBIC, expressed his gratitude for the region's cooperation to date, with business activities that include Japanese companies and JBIC. At the same time, he stated JBIC's intention to continue providing enhanced cooperation in infrastructure and other sectors, both inside and outside of the Middle Eastern region. Quoting a phrase made famous by Eleanor Roosevelt's speech, "Yesterday is a history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why it is called the ‘present'", Mr. Kondoh appealed to the audience to create a new history with business people and countries in the Middle East, while envisioning the next decade.
Next, congratulatory speeches were delivered from the guests. H.E. Shaikh Mohammed bin Khalifa bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa, Minister of Oil of Bahrain. His Excellency expressed his appreciation for JBIC's cooperation to date with Middle Eastern countries, for technologies and high-quality products of Japanese companies, and his gratitude to the members of the Office. Then the Ambassador of Japan to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), H.E. Kanji Fujiki, gave a speech explaining that Middle Eastern countries will need enhanced cooperation, not only in the resources sector but also in the environment, energy, infrastructure, and medical sectors, and he stated his expectations for JBIC's further commitment in achieving such cooperation. Governor of DIFC, H.E. Essa Kazim, declared his intention to continue to provide a sound financial environment for foreign financial institutions, including JBIC, as a financial center that provides opportunities for cooperation with the UAE and other Middle Eastern countries.
In the session which followed, various experts presented a series of keynote lectures,focusing on what kind of partnerships JBIC and Japanese companies will be expected to form in order to achieve the development "Visions" targeted by the Middle Eastern countries. Presentations included the themes: 1) outlook for the Middle Eastern economy over the next ten years, by Dr. Nasser Saidi, the former chief economist at the DIFC Authority; 2) past achievements and prospects for Japanese companies in the Middle Eastern power and other sectors, by Mr. Masataka Kuramoto, Chairman of the Japanese Business Council in Dubai (Executive Officer and Regional CEO for Middle East, Marubeni Corporation); and 3) falling oil prices and the Middle East's response to such a trend, by Dr. Fereidun Fesharaki, Chairman of FACTS GLOBAL ENERGY (FGE).
After the lectures, Moriyuki Aida, JBIC's Executive Officer for Europe, Middle East and Africa, outlined JBIC's activities over the past ten years, since the opening of the Office. He presented JBIC's steady efforts and accomplishments over the years as a trusted partner in the Middle East, referring to the facts that: (1) while the number of Japanese companies operating in the Middle East increased by 1.5-fold in the past ten years, the outstanding amount of JBIC's loans, guarantees and equity participation in the Middle East and North African regions has also increased by 1.4-fold; and (2) the amount of generated electricity and desalination capacity of ADWEC, an affiliate of Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity Authority, has doubled and increased by 1.4-fold, respectively, in the past ten years, and that much of this growth can be attributed to support from Japanese companies and JBIC. He also stated that, in order to overcome the budgetary limitations amid falling oil prices, towards achieving the Middle Eastern development "Visions", some of the key factors lie in JBIC's support and effective use of the PPP scheme, particularly in the case of combining finance to EPC projects. With these in mind, he told the audience that JBIC will continue to fulfill its role as the Middle East's partner, together with Japanese companies and private financial institutions, while adapting to changes in the environment.
Lastly, before closing the conference, Naoki Tamaki, Chief Representative, Representative Office in Dubai, expressed his gratitude to the participants, as well as his hope for JBIC to continue to always be "a good partner" in the Middle East region . A reception followed, with a greeting from H.E. Hisashi Michigami, the Consul General of Japan to Dubai. The reception gave an opportunity for participants of both Japan and the Middle East and Africa to promote friendships.
Through this conference, both parties developed mutual understanding for building even stronger relations between JBIC and the Middle Eastern countries.