An advisor to the Sultan of Brunei, one of the richest men in the world, came to Israel on a secret visit with a view to promoting economic relations between the two countries.
The advisor, B. Naliq Faqouli, who was born in Mali and has lived in Brunei for the past thirteen years, is the president of a large oil company and in charge of the National Investment Agency.
The advisor came to Israel at the invitation of the Israel General Managers Forum, representing 600 general managers from Israel's leading companies, which this week held its annual conference at the Tel-Aviv Hilton Hotel.
Faqouli met with businessman Benny Klein, the forum’s director-general.
Brunei, a Muslim emirate and one of the world’s largest oil exporters, does not maintain diplomatic relations with Israel. Faqouli’s is the first visit by such a high-ranking Brunei official in Israel.
According to the advisor, he was sent to Israel by the Sultan to immediately promote economic ties with Israel, foremost among them being the import of advanced high-tech and construction technologies to Brunei. In return, he invites Israel to import oil from the wealthy emirate.
Faqouli, one of the closest associates of Brunei’s Minister of Finance, did not come alone. Visiting Israel together with him were the director-general of the national railways authority of Mali, a West African Muslim country; the personal advisor to the President of French Guyana, likewise a Muslim country; the son of the President of Togo, which does maintain diplomatic relations with Israel; and the officer in charge of Togo’s free trade zone.
The man behind this secret visit is the President of the General Managers Forum, Anglo-Jewish billionaire Sammy Shimon. According to director-general Klein, the Forum intends, in the near future, also to realise the bond created behinds the scenes with Syrian businessmen.
During the visit it was agreed that in the coming month, a delegation of forty businessmen from West Africa and Muslim countries not maintaining diplomatic relations with Israel, and including Mali and French Guyana, would visit Israel.
Published by Israel's Business Arena November 14, 1999