The U.A.E.-U.S. Business Council has convened the CEO Forum, a high-level business-to-government meeting of fifty senior American and Emirati stakeholders, in Washington, D.C.
The meeting, co-led by U.A.E.'s Assistant Foreign Minister for Economic Affairs, Khalid Al Ghaith, and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs, Charles H. Rivkin, and covered key developments in the U.A.E.-U.S. commercial relationship and private sector issues for consideration during the upcoming sixth U.A.E.-U.S. Economic Policy Dialogue (EPD).
The programme, moderated by U.A.E.-U.S. Business Council President Danny Sebright, included scene-setting remarks by the U.A.E. Ambassador to the U.S., Yousef Mana'a Saeed Al Otaiba, and U.S. Ambassador to the U.A.E., Michael H. Corbin.
"No one is better placed to partner with the U.A.E. to foster innovation and growth than U.S. companies," said Assistant Secretary Rivkin. "To that end, both governments have publically committed to devote the resources needed to promote greater trade and investment, and coordination between our two countries has never been stronger." Khalid Al Ghaith, in his remarks, said, "The U.A.E. looks to the United States as a key partner in driving investment, educational, and commercial partnership opportunities across numerous sectors with special emphasis on innovation and entrepreneurship, the recent visit of the U.A.E. Minister of Economy confirms our commitment towards this partnership. We value the private sector's wide-ranging, frontline input and take it into consideration during every EPD discussion." The closed-door CEO Forum working dinner programme included updates from key American and Emirati private and public sector stakeholders on various topics of economic importance, including: U.S.-U.A.E. commercial partnerships, opportunities presented by the U.A.E.'s winning bid to host World Expo 2020 in Dubai, the U.A.E.'s growing commercial aviation sector, evolving industrial standards in the U.A.E. and Gulf Cooperation Council, and an update on federal economic development projects.
"The U.S.-U.A.E. trade relationship is rapidly growing, with innovation and vibrant economic advancement at the heart of bilateral partnership," said Ambassador Corbin. "The CEO Forum helps to enhance transparency between business and government leaders driving the policy and business agenda between the two countries." During the forum, Sebright provided an update on the launch of the 'Expo 2020 U.S.-U.A.E. Standing Committee' set to streamline industry issues and communication between American and Emirati stakeholders leading up to World Expo 2020 in Dubai. The Committee is chaired by the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council, in partnership with AmCham Abu Dhabi and ABC Dubai, and includes senior executives representing sectors of interest to the U.A.E. Higher Committee for Hosting World Expo 2020.
Earlier in the day, the U.A.E.-U.S. Business Council held its 2014 Board of Directors meeting in D.C. The summit brought fifty c-suite executives from American and Emirati companies together to discuss the trajectory of U.S.-U.A.E. commercial ties and to set the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council's policy agenda for 2015. The meeting, emceed by Sebright, was chaired by Mubadala Deputy Group CEO and CEO of Emerging Markets, Waleed Al Mokarrab Al Muhairi, and Del Renigar on behalf of U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council Co-Chairman John Rice, Vice Chairman and President & C.E.O. of Global Growth and Operations, General Electric Co.. Ambassador Al Otaiba and Ambassador Corbin joined the meeting as honorary members and provided the group of senior executives with perspectives on the U.S.-U.A.E. trade relationship and areas of growth opportunity.
"The U.A.E.-U.S. Business Council is an important platform for business and government leaders to discuss pressing and emerging initiatives underpinning successful U.S.-U.A.E. trade relations," said Ambassador Al Otaiba.
Topics on the Board Meeting's agenda included an update on Dubai's hospitality and travel sector by Jumeirah Group CEO, Gerald Lawless, an overview of the U.A.E.'s rapid commercial aviation expansion by Etihad Airways Senior Vice President-Americas, Geert Boven, a brief on Abu Dhabi's healthcare sector by Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi CEO, Dr. Marc Harrison, a preview of the changing U.A.E. defence industry by Sebright, and a review of U.A.E. innovation, entrepreneurship, and student programmes from the U.A.E. Embassy in D.C. Commercial Counsellor, Saud Al Nowais.
"The U.A.E.-U.S. Business Council derives success from the brilliance and foresight of its leadership made up of some of the world's top executives," said Sebright. "These American and Emirati executives view the importance of the U.A.E.-U.S. commercial relationship through a global lens and set each Council work plan to reflect ways to enhance not only bilateral, but world-wide industrial success." The U.A.E.-U.S. Business Council Board Meeting adjourned after the leadership and members approved the 2015 budget and agreed to hold the 2015 Board of Directors meeting in the U.A.E..