HRH Prince Meshaal Bin Maged Bin Abdelaziz Al Saud inaugurated the Saudi Corporate Social Responsibility Forum held at the Park Hyatt Hotel Jeddah on 29th and 30th May 2012 and co-organised by the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Al Iktissad Wal Aamal Group, in the presence of more than 600 senior officials, corporate leaders, experts and stakeholders.
The deputy CEO of Al Iktissad Wal Amal Group Fayssal Abu Zaki kick-started the forum activities with a speech stating that the “Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry initiative chaired by Sheikh Saleh Kamel to organise this forum stems from the Chamber’s interest in this cause given the pivotal role it is playing among the active chambers across the social, commercial and industrial fields and its proactive stance in founding the social responsibility center”. He adds: “We appreciate the trust placed by the Chamber in Al Iktissad Wal Aamal Group and its engagement in the forum organisation process, knowing that the Group relation with the Chamber goes back to around 25 years as the cooperation and joint work with the Jeddah Chamber is an integral part of the collaboration with the Kingdom and private Saudi entities.”
Abu Zaki pointed out: “we are gathered this year for the second edition of the forum after the great success of the first edition that culminated in the launch of two paramount initiatives in terms of social responsibility and contributed to raising awareness of this concept. Since last year, we noticed that an increasing number of Saudi companies started to develop and adopt specific programmes serving the society and acquiring more responsive practices to the targeted social segment needs.”
Abu Zaki concluded his remarks indicating that the Saudi Corporate Social Responsibility Forum is a natural step to bring together the different sectors and segments interested in social responsibility under one umbrella in order to discuss the next phase of the corporate social responsibility programs and how to transform them from initiatives to integrated strategies based on the KSA Arab and Islamic culture, to serve the extensive development initiatives and supplement the economic and social development plans led by the Kingdom government.”
On his part, president of the Jeddah Social Responsibility Centre, advisor Ahmad Al Hamdan indicated that “the forum organized by the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry represented by the Jeddah Social Responsibility Center and Al Iktissad Wal Aamal Group falls under the center strategy aimed at expanding the social responsibility awareness programs and activities and driving companies to go ahead with their developed strategies to ehance the social responsibility concept across the business sector and make sure the stakeholders are performing their role on this front.”
Al Hamdan noted “we did not only want to have the Saudi Corporate Social Responsibility Forum as a platform to spread corporate social responsibility concept and institutionalise the relevant causes but we also strived to transform it into a tribune for launching initiatives. This was translated in the first edition with the Jeddah Social Responsibility Centre launching the Jeddah Tayseer Initiative for Disabled People” aimed at providing various services for this precious social segment including the rehabilitation of all buildings for public use such that they could be used by the impaired in addition to awareness and empowerment services and making available special transportation services to move, train and employ them with dignity. The project entailed research activities across engineering faculties to come up with innovations that would make the life of impaired people easier.”
On another note, Al Hamdan announced the launch of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry Social Responsibility Award aimed at highlighting best practices and programmes in terms of social responsibility across the Kingdom based on the specific set standards currently developed and which are to be announced soon, indicating that “the objective is not to add a new award but to shed light on outstanding efforts and encourage companies to put greater efforts to develop this fruitful national initiative.”
At the end of the opening session, organising parties honoured partner companies and institutions supporting the Saudi Corporate Social Responsibility Forum with HRH Prince Meshaal Bin Maged Bin Abdulaziz handing over commemorative awards to top achievers: the Saudi Arabia Responsible Competitiveness Index represented by the Deputy Governor for Investors Services at Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) Ali Sheneamer, Saudi Binladen Group represented by Badr Al-Ansari, the Construction Products Holding Company (Mawad Al-Emaar Holding) represented by the Director of Business Development and Head of the Social Responsibility Department Dr. Fayssal Al-Aqeel, the Saudi Group represented by the General Manager of SAMACO development Kamal Mumina, Audi for research and marketing represented by Asharq Alawsat newspaper editor-in-chief Mohammed Al Shumari, Saudi Aramco Mobil Refinery Company Ltd. represented by the Social Responsibility Supervisor Bandar Iskandarani, INDEVCO Group represented by Regional Manager Marwan Abdul Latif and Area General Manager Jihad Efrem, Procter and Gamble represented by the Arabian Peninsula Public and Government Relations P&G Manager Turki Bin Moammar, the National Prawn Company represented by CEO Eng. Ahmad Al Ballaa, the Riyadh Social Responsibility Council represented by the Director of the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry Community Service Department Abdulaziz Al Khudeiri, Aleqtissadiya Newspaper represented by the Director of the Western Province Office Ali Al Muqbili and Asharq Alawsat Newspaper represented by the editor-in-chief Mohammed Al Shumari.
Forum organisers presented a commemorative award to HRH Prince Meshaal Bin Maged Bin Abdulaziz, Governor of Jeddah Province as a token of their deep appreciation of his patronage and presence in the forum opening ceremony.
After the opening ceremony, the Saudi Corporate Social Responsibility Forum carried on its activities with a keynote speech by SAGIA Deputy Governor for Investors Services Ali Sheneamer in which he stressed the “applicability of the social responsibility that is being increasingly maximised at both public and private sectors across the Kingdom and worldwide.”
Sheneamer indicated that “over 62% of the responders to a SAGIA questionnaire on the importance of corporate social responsibility considered that it became an indispensable pillar to building trust among companies and consumers while 56% found that social responsibility is a main factor to attract investors; in the same vein, 60% said that it represents one of the crucial elements to drive corporate staff to do their best at the professional and moral levels”. Sheneamer added: “we started to notice that certain countries have started to shun companies that do not apply social responsibility programs or commit to implementing them, to the extent that many investors’ priorities are no longer confined to the lucrative elements such as return on investment but they are also focused on the investment impact on the diverse segments of community.
Saudi Corporate Social Responsibility Forum Press Conference
SAGIA held a press conference parallel to the Saudi Corporate Social Responsibility Forum to announce the establishment of an advisory council for the Saudi Responsible Competitiveness Index which includes entities interested in supporting social responsibility programs: King Khalid Charity Organisation, AccountAbility, BEA Systems and Emaar TASI.
Press conference was attended by SAGIA Governor for Investors Services Ali Sheneamer, Secretary General of the King Khalid Charity Organisation Riyadh Abdul Kareem, AccountAbility Regional Head for the Middle East, Africa and Asia Gilbert Rustom and Dr. Michael Von Gagern from the Social Responsibility Chair at King Saud University.
Sheneamer indicated during the press conference that SAGIA adopted the responsible competitiveness concept that contributes to introducing companies, sectors and communities to mechanisms for building strategies for promoting environment security and social development aimed at achieving sustainable development.
Rushika Bhatia Editor
Rushika Bhatia is one of the region’s leading commentators on business and current affairs issues. She is the Editor of SME Advisor magazine - the flagship title of CPI Business. She is passionate about infographics – with special emphasis on data, research and statistics. Rushika has a Bachelor’s Degree from Indiana University, USA and is also CIMA qualified.