CAIRO: As businesses around the world batten down the hatches to weather the economic crisis, members of Scottish Development International (SDI) arrived in Cairo this week as part of a trade mission to promote greater economic partnerships between Scotland and Egypt.
Speaking immediately before a reception Sunday at the British ambassador’s residence, Mission Leader Abdel Hadi Fawzy called Egypt a “priority market and sounded confident that his mission would result in deeper economic ties between the two nations.
The purpose of this year’s mission is to promote economic ties in the oil and gas sector, though Fawzy made it clear that the group was in no way limited to that.
Scotland has become a leader in the energy industry – the Scottish trade mission brochure boasts that energy makes up 17.3 percent of Scottish GDP.
“We have capabilities in Scotland, Fawzy said, speaking of his country’s energy industry expertise. “We have capabilities in Egypt.
The proposed partnerships would mean “added value to the Scottish companies, and added value to the company we are working with, which in this case is Egypt.
A delegation of 20 Scottish energy industry leaders, led by Fawzy, arrived in Egypt Saturday to forge partnerships with Egyptian businesses during several meetings intended to promote interaction and an exchange of ideas between the two sides.
On Sunday, the group held a workshop to introduce potential partners in the pipeline industry. Speakers included British Ambassador Dominic Asquith and Egyptian Petroleum Minister Sameh Fahmi.
The purpose of workshops like these, Fawzy said, “was to highlight the capabilities on both sides.
In its bid to bolster greater cooperation on energy matters, the mission broke down potential partnerships into three fields.
Pipeline related ventures represented the first of the mission’s sub-sections.
“Oil and gas pipelines are a strategic means to transport oil and gas, said Fawzy. “Egypt was one of the leading countries to work with pipelines.
Fawzy added that he sees Scotland’s expertise as a good match for Egypt which, though oil poor, controls strategic oil pipelines which provide energy for much of the Middle East.
Promoting partnerships for applied education and training is also a purpose of the Scottish mission to Cairo.
Fawzy noted that while most education and training programs that SDI has run have been in energy-related fields, the group also pushes a broader scope of projects.
He noted joint technician programs and healthcare related ventures that the group has helped establish.
“The largest teacher training program in the world is between Scotland and Egypt, Fawzy said.
He noted that for the last 10 years, 200 Egyptian teachers visit Edinburgh annually and another 200 head to Glasgow.
“It was in my view, Fawzy said, “An extremely useful and important project.
Finally, the mission, over its one week in Cairo, aimed to promote service and support projects between Scottish and Egyptian energy firms.
Fawzy named Cresent, an oil and gas safety consultancy firm, as firm with strong partnership potential. He also said that service and support was an important sector through which small and medium enterprises (SMEs) could get involved with international partners through SDI.
SDI was created in 2001 through the government and works in dozens of target markets throughout the world.
As of 2005, SDI was responsible for bringing £215 of additional business into Scotland.