Mayor's Office

Press Release

Mayor Parker Leads Houston Trade Mission to Middle East
Economic Development and Jobs the Focus of 8-day Visit



November 8, 2012 -- Houston Mayor Annise Parker will lead a 38-member delegation to Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) and Qatar on a trade mission aimed at expanding business cooperation between Houston and the Middle East.


“This trade mission will not only enhance our existing foreign business relationships, but also provide opportunities for new partnerships with public and private organizations in each country,” said Mayor Parker. “Houston’s strength as an energy capital will help businesses looking for new ventures or strategic links in this part of the world and, inversely, place Houston at the forefront when Middle Eastern businesses contemplate future international business models.”


The 8-day trip, which begins November 8, 2012 will highlight compelling parallels to key Houston economic sectors. The delegation will visit dignitaries and business leaders in the cities of Dubai & Abu Dhabi (U.A.E.), Doha (Qatar) and Dammam (Saudi Arabia).  All four cities are regional leaders in countries long known to the rest of the world for their bountiful oil and gas resources. As in Houston, while energy is still king, the economies of these countries are diversifying into value-added sectors like healthcare, logistics/transportation, education and engineering.


"We are thrilled to welcome Mayor Annise Parker and the Houston delegation to partner with us on our third mayoral delegation trade mission to the Middle East," said Aida Araissi, President, Bilateral U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce, which is sponsoring the trip. "We are especially proud of the American expertise that Mayor Parker and her delegates bring to the region.  The meetings with senior level private and public sector leadership, networking events and site visits on our agenda promise to make this one of the most memorable trade mission in our 17 years of hosting them."


The U.A.E., Qatar and Saudi Arabia have defied and reconfigured expectations for petro-economies by investing heavily in major infrastructure projects, scientific and cultural undertakings, and providing an array of business incentives which have brought some of the world’s largest corporations to their business community.  One of the goals of this trip will be to facilitate new business partnerships and express the importance of maintaining existing ones. Mayor Parker in particular will strengthen international relations and advance Houston’s business, economic, political and commercial objectives in the Middle East, which include increasing trade between the two regions.


The delegation includes representatives from the Port of Houston, Houston Airport System, Texas Medical Center and the Greater Houston Partnership, along with corporate leaders as well as small and medium-size business owners interested in conducting business in the Gulf region. The trip is sponsored by the Bilateral US-Arab Chamber of Commerce.