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Sun 24 Feb 2008 11:27 AM

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Jeddah Economic Forum opens

Greenspan and Soros key-note speakers at major business forum in kingdom.

The ninth annual Jeddah Economic forum (JEF) has officially opened, with the major regional business forum attracting influential business leaders such as Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve Board and billionaire philanthropist George Soros for the four-day event in Saudi Arabia.

Governor of Makkah Prince Khaled Al-Faisal inaugurated the forum on Saturday evening, with major panel discussions and sessions about the kingdom's economic future to be convened between February 24-26.

"We have a good opportunity to build an economic base to reach new horizons and to utilize our success to achieve further successes." said Prince Khaled, speaking to a full-capacity auditorium of business delegates in Jeddah, reported Arab News. 

"In the coming days, more areas for cooperation will come up," he said.

Jeddah Economic Forum has been held annually since 2000 and aims to address key issues and challenges about the economic future of Saudi Arabia and the region.

This year's forum theme is "Value Creation Through Alliances and Partnerships," which Jeddah, the port of arrival for Hajj and Umrah pilgrims - has been doing successfully for fourteen centuries, organisers said.

Prince Khaled alluded to Jeddah's commercial history by urging foreign businessmen to look at the kingdom, and specifically at the Red Sea port city as a business and cultural centre keen on attracting commerce and investment.

Some of the other influential business leaders taking part at this year's forum include Nobel Prize winner and founder of the Grameen Bank Muhammed Yunus,chairman of Virgin Group Richard Branson, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and, via video linkup, the UK's Prince Charles.

Key sessions at the forum are to be moderated by British broadcaster Alastair Stewart and CNN's John Defterios.

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