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Programme agenda

Day One – 25 May 2014

08.00   Registration and light breakfast

09.00   Opening remarks from the Chair
Brandy Scott, Radio Personality & UAE Business Expert

09.05   Welcome Keynote Address:  Welcome to the UAE and MENA

  • Welcome to Dubai: The gateway to doing business in the Middle East
  • Why MENA, why now? Tapping into $1.7trillion in planned and ongoing projects
  • Building bridges globally and supporting your journey to setting up businesses in the UAE and wider region
  • Introduction of key Emirati partners and Arabian Gateway supporters

Fahad Al Gergawi, CEO, Dubai FDI

09.35   DIFC Courts: Providing transparency and security for your business interests in the UAE

  • Outlining the role of the DIFC Courts in providing security for your business investments in the UAE
  • Developing a transparent framework to safeguard domestic and foreign business interests and provide certainty that contracts will be honoured
  • Understanding the global reach of DIFC Courts
  • Embracing a culture of engagement with the wider business community to ensure your business concerns are being addressed

Mark Beer OBE, Chief Executive and Registrar, DIFC Courts, Dubai

10.05   Macroeconomic overview of the Middle East region

Tim Fox, Head of Research and Chief Economist, Emirates NBD

10.30   Establishing your business: Navigating the regulatory framework

  • Licensing and regulations: What structure is most suitable for your business?Overview of the New Companies Law and impact on commercial companies setting up in the UAE
    • Local partners
    • Free trade zones
    • Franchising
  • Understanding foreign ownership laws
  • Contracts, collaboration and dispute resolution in the Gulf

Jonathan Silver, Partner, Clyde & Co

11.30   Morning refreshments and networking

12.00   Industry Spotlight Workshops

These one and a half hour workshops are tailored to meet the needs of specific industry sectors and will run as stream session A from 12.00-13.30 and stream session B from 14.00-15.30.  Delegates will choose one workshop from session A, and one workshop from session B they would like to attend.  Workshops will open with a market overview presentation followed by a panel of prominent experts working in these fields sharing their experiences and insights from the practitioner’s perspective. 

Workshop agenda: Introduction and market overview
Industry Panel Discussion: The practitioners’ view on the opportunities and challenges facing key growth sectors in the UAE and MENA region

Stream Session A:  12.00-13.30 Delegates choose to attend one of the following: Aviation, Construction, Education or Energy


The Middle East aviation industry is booming, with recent forecasts estimating that regional airlines are growing at a 10% rate annually, double the 5% global average.  New projects continue to be announced with airports in the region estimated to cater for over 400 million passengers by 2020.  Airport development and passenger and cargo growth remain high on the agenda for regional governments, and investments into airports and expansions are forecasted to reach over $119billion by 2016.  This round table session will explore the current market landscape and opportunities for new entrants.

Session Moderator and Market Overview:
Peter Shaw-Smith, Contributing Editor – Middle East, Aviation International News

– Matthew Cochran, Founder & Chairman, Defense Services Marketing Council
Miyan Zaffar Ahmad Razzaq, Vice President, Middle East & North Africa, Commercial Engines & Global Services, Pratt & Whitney UTC
Sachin Suramwar, Regional Aerospace Leader- MEA, GE Energy M&C
– Further panelists to be announced


Recent estimates of projects in the planning and construction phases value the Middle East’s construction market at over $2.87 trillion.  Government investment into infrastructure continues relatively unabated and forecasts suggest that cumulative growth in MENA’s construction industry is set to reach 80% over the next 10 years, easily surpassing the global rate of 67%.  This session will explore the unique market characteristics around the region and highlight lessons learnt from those businesses already here as well opportunities and challenges facing newcomers to the market.

Session Moderator and Market Overview:
Sona Nambiar, Projects Editor, Zawya Thomson Reuters

– Abdul Latif Merii, Managing Director – Infrastructure, Atkins
– Abdulmajid Karanouh, Director, Ramboll
– Campbell Gray, Managing Director, Faithful + Gould
– Christopher Seymour, Head of Property, ARCADIS Gulf
– Jeff Willis, Associate Director, Arup; Vice-Chairman Emirates Green Building Council   


This round table discussion will examine how MENA is one of the world’s fastest growing regions for education. The panelists will highlight the critical role of education in the region’s ambitious development goals by providing concrete, usable information for public/private sector entities interested in establishing a footprint in the region. This “not to be missed” segment of the program is designed for universities attempting to establish partnerships, private/public educational or training service providers, and educational agents seeking to recruit the region’s best minds to study abroad.

Session Moderator:
Anjum Malik, Co-founder & Managing Partner, Alhambra-U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Market Overview:
Dr. Warren Fox, Chief of Higher Education, Knowledge & Human Development Authority

– Professor Ammar Kaka, Head of Campus & Executive Dean, Heriot-Watt University Dubai ;
Vice-Principal (Dubai), Heriot-Watt Universit
– Ehsan Razavizadeh, Regional Director – MENA & Head of Dubai Centre, Sir John Cass Business School, City University London
– Dr. Robert Chater, Executive Director, Hult Business School
– Dr. Warren Fox, Chief of Higher Education, Knowledge & Human Development Authority


An estimated $530 billion is being invested in the energy industries in the Middle East in the period leading up to 2015, according to recent forecasts. Of this it is projected that over 60% of these investments are likely to will take place in the GCC countries.  The region, one of the world’s largest producers is also quickly becoming one of the world’s largest energy consumers, creating a huge demand-side requirement to moderate current usage.  These factors combine to create a vast opportunity for traditional and clean energy suppliers and the entire energy supply chain.  This session will explore those opportunities and give insider insights into what is really happening in the Middle East energy market.

Session Moderator and Market Overview:
To be confirmed

– Carlos Pone, CEO, ABB in Southern Gulf (UAE, Qatar, Oman) and Pakistan
– Graeme Sims, Executive Director, Regulatory & Supervisory Bureau Dubai
– Marwan Abdulaziz, Executive Director, Life Science Cluster of TECOM Investments (EnPark & DuBiotech
– Ramani Hariharan, Executive Vice President, Strategy & Communications, GDF SUEZ Energy Middle East, Turkey & Africa
– Saeed Alabbar, Director, AESG


Stream Session B: Delegates choose to attend one of the following: Banking & Finance, Healthcare and Tourism & Hospitality

Banking and finance

The Middle East is one of the world’s fastest growing markets in the banking and capital markets sector. Aside from volatility in the wider MENA region, the GCC markets are well developed, profitable and well regulated.  As the population sees an increase in young, highly educated and product-savvy consumers, there is a greater demand for diversity in financial products and services.  With many financial institutions investing heavily to beat the competition, there is a huge opportunity for international players to enter the market.  This round table session will examine the opportunities and challenges for businesses looking to be a part of the banking and capital markets sector in the Middle East.

Session Moderator and Market Overview:
To be announced

To be announced


The Middle East’s healthcare sector continues to grow at exponential rates with demand still far outstripping supply for hospital beds and qualified healthcare professionals.  A 2007 McKinsey & Company report calculated that GCC healthcare expenditure would reach $60billion by 2025; and current growth projections appear to exceed that figure.  Recent forecasts suggest that the regional healthcare market will grow at a rate of up to 11% by 2015, with particular growth found in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.  This session will explore what this means for businesses looking to tap into this unrivalled market potential.

Session Moderator and Market Overview:
Sandeep Sinha, Director, Healthcare Practice Middle East, Frost & Sullivan

Laila Al Jassmi, Founder & CEO, Health Beyond Borders

Tourism and hospitality

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) the UAE was one of the top 10 fastest growing tourism hotspots in the world in 2013.  Despite some countries being hit by political volatility, many markets are seeing a surge in tourism figures, supported by the awarding of high profile international events such as the World Cup in Qatar and the World Expo in Dubai.  The GCC hospitality market has been estimated to reach over $28.6billion by 2016 with projections growing at an increasing rate year-on-year.  This session will give you the information you need to find out how you can win work in this booming sector.

Session Moderator and Market Overview:
Filippo Sona, Regional Director, Head of Hotels – MENA Region, Colliers International

– Andrew Furlong, Regional Managing Director, Compass Group
– Further panelists to be announced

16.00   End of Conference Day 1

19.30   Arabian Gateway Gala Dinner

Delegates will experience the grand hospitality of the UAE during an unforgettable Welcome Gala Dinner.

Day Two – 26 May 2014

08.00   Light breakfast

09.00   Opening remarks from the Chair and overview of Day 2 proceedings

Brandy Scott, Radio Personality & UAE Business Expert

09.05   Opening Address

Invitation extended to HE Laila Mohammed Suhail, CEO, Dubai Events & Promotions Establishment           

09.30   Keynote Address: Lessons from Boeing: Why you need to be based in the Middle East

Jeffrey Johnson, President, Boeing Middle East

09.55   Overview of Middle East banking and financial services

  • Financial reporting – what are the requirements?
  • Tax implications for companies and individuals
  • Critical issues – checks, credit control and collecting invoices

10.20   Finance Round Table: Traditional and alternative methods to raise capital in MENA

  • Exploring the dynamics of traditional and non-traditional funding mechanisms in the region
  • Shariah-compliant financing
  • Availability of bank finance
  • Accessing private investment
  • Assessing the role of private equity, sovereign wealth funds and alternative finance structures

– Adnan Halawy, Product Manager Islamic Finance, Zawya Thomson Reuters
Chris Thomas, CEO & Co-Founder, Eureeca
Dany Farha, Founder & CEO, BECO Capital

11.00   Morning refreshments and networking

11.30   Delegates will be separated into two groups and will attend each of the workshops in the smaller groups throughout the afternoon based on the allocated rotations below.   Delegates will have the opportunity to attend each workshop.

A.     Cross Cultural Masterclass: Building rapport and establishing relationships  across culturally diverse workforces

The culturally diverse workforce in the MENA region has the potential to create confusion, misunderstanding and tension.  To be successful, it is important to develop cultural competence and the skills to deal with challenging business situations.  This is also particularly relevant when it comes to networking styles and business development.   With family businesses dominating many key industry sectors and a highly changeable expat workforce, it is important to be constantly building your network and contacts in order to keep your finger on the pulse of new opportunities.  This session will arm you with the skills you need to effectively recruit and manage a cross-cultural workforce as well as building productive and sustainable business relationships to help build your business. 

Donna Marsh, Intercultural Consultant, Farnham Castle Intercultural Training

B.      Legal Masterclass: Employment law and immigration policies and how they affect your business

This session will cover employment regulations and immigration laws that will affect you setting up your business and getting your team in place. For example, what is Emiratisation and how does it affect you?  What are the current immigration and visa regulations?  And what is required under labour law in terms of employee compensation and benefits? 

 C.      PR Masterclass:  Reaching the right people through the right channels

The Middle East marketing landscape is complex, with vastly different demographics spanning from the oil and gas rich countries to those with large lower and middle class populations. The majority of marketing spend in the Middle East is still via traditional channels, but digital marketing including email, social media and PPC is rapidly gaining market share. What is the best way to promote your business? Should you focus on global or local messages? What about social media? How can you plan the best possible campaign? This session will outline the latest trends and analyses and help you determine the most effective communications strategy for your business.

D.     Branding Masterclass: Protecting your intellectual property (IP)

Session description to follow.

11.30   First rotation

Session A:        Group 1
Session B:        Group 2

12.30   Delegates move to the next session

12.45   Second rotation

Session A:        Group 2
Session B:        Group 1

13.45   Lunch

14.45   Third rotation

Session C:        Group 1
Session D:        Group 2

15.45   Delegates move to the next session

16.00   Final rotation

Session C:        Group 2
Session D:        Group 1

17.00   End of conference Day 2       

Free evening

Day Three – 27 May 2014

08.00   Light breakfast

09.00   Opening remarks from the Chair and overview of Day 3 proceedings

Brandy Scott, Radio Personality & UAE Business Expert

09.05   UAE Success Stories Panel: Reaping the rewards of moving from a distributorship to a permanent presence in the Middle East

  • Identifying the main reasons for moving from a distributor to setting up shop in the Middle East
  • Quantifying success: How has locating to the region accelerated business growth?
  •  Real world examples and case studies of businesses from around the world who have made the jump from distributors to opening up a regional office and why they would urge you to do the same

– Joe Hepworth, CEO, British Business Council UAE
– Neil Petch, Chairman, VirtuZon
– Sidney Alves Costa, Director, Business Support Center, Apex-Brazil Middle East

09.45   Alternative strategies to entering the MENA market

  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Joint ventures
  • Compliance and regulations

10.15   Recruitment in the Middle East: Identifying the common challenges to deliver a high performing team across cultures

  • Highlighting the demand for skilled and qualified workers across the region
  • Understanding your organisation’s culture and finding the right person-environment fit for your workplace
  • Retention and development: Establishing a framework to train and hold on to talent

James Maltman, Managing Director, Engage Selection

10.40   Panel Discussion: Women in the Gulf: What’s the reality?

  • Highlighting the significant contribution local and expatriate women make to business in the UAE
  • Investigating the roles, influence and expectations of women in the region and how this can vary across the Gulf countries
  • Understanding both the current situation and traditional background of women in business

– Asma Bajawa, Managing Director, People First HR Consultancy
– Donna Benton, CEO & Founder, the Entertainer

– Jane Drury, CEO & Founder,
– Pamela Chikhani, Strategic Alliances Manager, Zawya Thomson Reuters
– Sara Khoja, Partner, Clyde & Co

11.30   Panel Discussion: Life in the UAE

Now that you are convinced that the Middle East is the right place for your business, find out more about the expat lifestyle and what you can expect life to be like outside the office.  This session will provide a unique opportunity for frank and open discussion around key topics such as education, entertainment, housing, sport, healthcare and more.  Sit with experts and UAE expats to get more detailed information on areas that interest you most and debunk the most common myths associated with life in the UAE.

– Kal Desai, CFO, Zawya Thomson Reuters
Dr. T.B. (Mac) McClelland, Jr., President & CEO, Center House
Robin Teh, Country Manager – UAE & Director of Valuations & Advisory – MENA, Chestertons International

12.30   Lunch

13.30   MENA Focus: Country profiles

The afternoon of Day 3 will provide an overview giving key facts, statistics and further information regarding other key countries and regional markets including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain and Egypt.

Tina Ghanem, Head of Content, Zawya Thomson Reuters

15.30   Closing remarks and of conference Day 3

Free afternoon and evening

Day Four – 28 May 2014

08.30   Light breakfast

09.30   Opening remarks from the Chair and overview of day 4 proceedings

Brandy Scott, Radio Personality & UAE Business Expert

09.35   Panel Discussion:  Mission critical – What to know before you go

During this session, our panel of expat experts will present their opinions on the most important points of doing business in the UAE and the wider Gulf region.  Discussion will be opened up to the floor giving delegates a chance to question panelists and debate the issues with the wider audience.

– Antonio Di Gregorio, Managing Director, Zawya Thomson Reuters
Patrick Crosbie, Managing Director, VirtuZone

10.20   Bringing it all together: Writing the road map for your UAE venture

  • Critical insights on what you can expect with a suggested step-by-step action plan to help guide you through the process
  • Advice, templates and checklists to help you develop your entry strategy
  • Reviewing final ‘to do’ points for your action plan
  • Outlining the next steps: Who to meet, when to meet and what to prepare

John Martin St. Valery, Founding Partner, Links Group

10.45   Ambassador’s Panel: Promoting trade and industry with the Gulf region

  • Highlighting the strategic importance of the Middle East as a leading trade hub
  • The role of general consuls and commercial attaches in facilitating bi-lateral trade flows
  • Developing partnerships and opportunities to ensure sustainable growth of the trade sector

– HE Giorgio Starace, Italian Ambassador to the UAE, Italian Embassy
HE Mpetjane Lekgoro, South African Ambassador to the UAE, South African Embassy
– HE Pablo Kang, Australian Ambassador to the UAE, Australian Embassy
– Robert de Leeuw, Consul General, Dutch Consulate General in Dubai

11.45   Closing Remarks

– Brandy Scott, Radio Personality & UAE Business Expert
– Neil Petch, Chairman, VirtuZone
– Neil Wood, Director, Arabian Gateway

12.15   Arabian Gateway Coffee Corners

Book a meeting during the refreshment break with one of our expert speakers for a unique one-to-one discussion around the challenges that matter most to you and your business. 

13.30   Lunch

Free afternoon and evening

Day Five – 29 May 2014

08.30   Light breakfast

09.30   Private meetings with local contacts 

Delegates have the opportunity to pre-arrange private meetings with local advisors, speakers, guests and supporters to get further details and ask any final questions in a confidential, one-to-one environment.

12.30   Lunch

Free afternoon and departures



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