In a few weeks several hundred Americans and Saudis will gather in Chicago for the “U.S.-Saudi Business Opportunities Forum” which will focus on the Kingdom’s “growing role in global financial and economic issues and the need for a continued collaborative U.S.-Saudi relationship.”
The timing of the forum is propitious with the global economic recovery showing strong growth in U.S.-Saudi business prospects. U.S. trade with the Arab world is poised to set records in 2010, with exports to Saudi Arabia forecast for over $17 billion this year, according to a newly released report by the National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce. The total exports to the Arab world, expected to reach $75 billion overall, will translate into 740,000 American jobs. The Chamber noted the Gulf countries are “making huge investments in upstream and downstream energy projects, power generation, water and waste treatment, ports and airports, roads & rail, hospitals, and schools. Big-ticket projects like these also open doors for related U.S. service providers, including those offering such cross-border services as logistics, engineering, training, and a wide array of other professional services.”
At an earlier meeting of American and Saudi business people, a trade mission promoting over $600 billion in potential investments in the Kingdom, SUSRIS talked with Engineer Khaled Al Seif, a leading Saudi businessman, about the longer view of this important component in the overall relationship. Al Seif, who will be among those at the Chicago forum, told SUSRIS, “The business relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia is an old and historic relationship, which has been very beneficial for both Saudis and Americans. Over the years America has been Saudi Arabia’s primary trading partner. Most of the things you see in Saudi Arabia are a result of this relationship — American technology starting from oil exploration to infrastructure and public works. You even see American influence in our standards due to the success of this relationship over the years. The development that has happened in Saudi Arabia we owe to American companies that have worked hard in the Kingdom. They have gained and we have gained. American exports to Saudi Arabia have provided hundreds of thousands of jobs in the U.S. Likewise, our economy has benefited from American business involvement so it has been the perfect partnership over all those years.”
A case in point is the business partnership between the Zahid family in Saudi Arabia and Caterpillar of Peoria, Illinois that is celebrating six decades of work together for the mutual benefit of America and the Kingdom. Mr. Amr Khashoggi, Zahid Group’s VP for Corporate Affairs told us that relationships like that between his company and Caterpillar is growing in importance as large-scale projects come to fruition. Khashoggi is among the many business people who strengthen the historic connections through hard work and persistence as he said in an exclusive SUSRIS interview, a follow on to his “Open Letter from a Saudi Businessman,” “We are two nations that have been strong allies for the past 60-plus years.” Today we are pleased to share for your consideration the story of the Zahid-Caterpillar partnership.
Zahid Tractor and Caterpillar Celebrate 60 Years of Partnership
The first milestone in the special relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia began in 1933 when Standard Oil was granted an oil concession by King Abdul Aziz Al-Saud. In the 77 years since then, the relationship evolved into a great alliance and partnership between the two nations, establishing cooperation on the various educational, cultural, political, and economic fronts. When King Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, founder of Saudi Arabia, met with U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in 1945 aboard the USS Quincy on the Great Bitter Lake in the Suez Canal, the meeting cemented the foundation of a historic bilateral partnership that continues to grow.
In the spirit of this amiable atmosphere, the business communities have reached out to each other and bolstered the economies of both countries by establishing successful partnerships and associations. This has led the U.S. to become Saudi Arabia’s largest trading partner. Bilateral trade today is in excess of $30 billion (SR112.5 billion) and it is expected that in 2010 Saudi imports from the U.S. will hit a record level of $17 billion (SR26.25 billion), thereby helping to jump-start many American businesses that have been challenged in 2009.
Shortly after the historic meeting between King Abdul Aziz and President Roosevelt, another relationship was born. In 1950, Caterpillar made the first of many visits to Saudi Arabia and established a partnership with the Zahid family that has grown strong over the past 60 years. As the two companies honor the past six decades, they also celebrate the future of their respective companies and the future of the next generations of both countries.
Caterpillar, which was founded by Benjamin Holt and Daniel Best in 1890, embarked on a mission with the Zahid family, which has been connected with commerce for well over a century, to serve the Kingdom by supplying heavy machinery and equipment to virtually all of the public and private sector enterprises. Today, the Group’s Heavy Machinery Division of Zahid Tractor manages one of the world’s largest Caterpillar dealerships, providing fully integrated solutions to its demanding clientele.
The alliance between Zahid and Caterpillar has a growing importance as the Kingdom embarks on a long-term phase of development in which large-scale projects are a main feature, making Saudi Arabia one of the most attractive countries in the world in terms of investment opportunities that cover a wide range of residential and commercial real estate development, industrial expansion, and infrastructure projects, such as airports, ports, railway lines, and road networks.
Dr. Jim Owens, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Caterpillar, visited Saudi Arabia earlier in the year and met with senior management of Zahid Group and toured its facilities in Jeddah. Dr. Owens commented during the visit, “It gives me a great sense of pride in Caterpillar’s partnership with Zahid Tractor, a long and lasting association, that has enabled us to be part of the growth and development of this great nation, and alongside Zahid, I have had the pleasure of meeting those companies that it is our privilege to count among our best customers.” Dr. Owens also noted the Kingdom’s economic resilience and strong financial position that enables it to continue with the development projects that are a key component in the Saudi Government’s efforts to stimulate the economy.
In addition to heavy machinery from Caterpillar, Zahid also offers a wide selection of engines, generators, and machinery tool attachments. Caterpillar, which is the world’s leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, counts Saudi Arabia among the company’s largest and most strategically important markets.
Zahid Group Holding provides comprehensive, customer-centric solutions to the construction, mining, oil and gas, agricultural, power generation, material handling, and transportation industries; as well as being an active participant in the electricity and water generation, logistics, building materials, real estate development, and travel and tourism sectors.
P.O. Box 8928