Newsletter 11/2018

Chairman's Message

AusBG Chairperson

Dear AusBG Members

Welcome to the final newsletter for 2018. A phenomenal year for AusBG, particularly the office team led by Annissa Taylor who took on the role as AusBG Group Manager just over 12 months ago. For those of you not at our AGM, these were the highlights of 2018:

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  • Engagement of growing Abu Dhabi Defense sector with targeted events.
  • Anzac Day Gala Ball (213 guests) and Taste of Australia (136 guests) with Barangaroo House Sydney chef Cory Campbell both contributing to new membership and exposure for Australian food and wine suppliers.
  • Exclusive events for our 50 Club Members: Etihad Innovation Centre Tour, Australian Story fireside discussions with AusBG 50 Club company owners, Private Iftar with HE Mohamed Khalifa Bin Yousef Al Suwaidi and AusBG 50 Club Roundtable Session 'Talk about your business' with Australian Ambassador HE Arthur Spyrou and Austrade's Ian Halliday and Naïla Mazzucco.

: Click here to view the 2018 AGM Presentation.

I would like to extend our greatest thanks to our sponsors, without whom the continued success of AusBG would not be possible – our friends at Etihad Airways, Mr Gerard Seeber and the Victorian State Government Spinneys, and Mr Nick Meara at Meat & Livestock Australia.

AusBG is a small group but has grown considerably over the last few years in activity and engagement. Our reputation of ‘activeness’ in Abu Dhabi is on par with larger country business groups. The Abu Dhabi Chamber has sought out AusBG in advisory roles, recognising us as a community leader. What an achievement. This recognition and reputation of ours is a testament to each of you and supports HE Arthur Spyrou's comments when he took his post that “Australians punch above their weight”. You do.

In the last five years AusBG has been a leader in the collaboration amongst business groups. We began this five years ago and have grown each year, collaborating with 22 groups in 2018. Today other business groups #inabudhabi embrace this ‘sharing’ concept, together we are more. We have grown our events in number, size, breadth and depth to more than 20 events per year holding more than 80 events in the last five years, with over 8,500 people attending in this time.

We introduced the classification of AusBG event series; “Knowledge, Networking and Diplomatic”. Under Dr Daniel Evans (Vice Chairman 2017, former Chair of Australian Business Group Oman) we launched the AusBG 50 Club to recognise and engage Australian-led businesses in the capital. We created “Australian Story” events, an intimate conversation with leading Australian entrepreneurs doing business in the Capital. We co-led with Dubai the formation of ABMA, the Australian Business Group Middle East Association which connects all Australian business groups in the region with each other and provides a platform to direct people to where they want to connect. We achieved this without any funding or support by working together.

We have established an MOU with the Australia Arab Chamber of Commerce & Industry and paved the way for other business groups to also establish this, which they now have. We introduced the 'AusBG Australian Business Person of the Year Award' to recognise the people in the community making a business impact. On top of all this we have continued the Taste of Australia initiative bringing together and showcasing Australian food and businesses seeking to connect with the region and brought over some fabulous Chefs such as Luke Mangan and Cory Campbell from Barangaroo House in Sydney.

I want to thank the AusBG Board 2018 for their time and commitment this year, all voluntary. Without their efforts, none of this is possible. I would like to recognize the contribution of our Treasurer Wissam Moukahal (Chairman, Macquarie Middle East) for his central role in bringing together some of the keenest financial and economic minds in Abu Dhabi for our Regional Economic Update. This was our most successful Knowledge event of the year with 161 attendees. Wissam is stepping down and will be replaced by Macquarie Bank Vice President Faris Iraiqat in 2019. I want to thank Ben Seesink for his time on the board in 2018 as he and his family move back to Australia. We welcome and congratulate the newly elected AusBG board for 2019. I want to personally thank the Ambassador HE Arthur Spyrou and the broader ‘Team Australia’ team for their support of the group. Without his leadership and support, AusBG would not have been able to do what it has done. Thank you.

I announced at the 2018 AGM that after 5 years as Chair (in addition to two as Vice Chair, two years as treasurer and sponsorship officer), I intend to stand down as Chair at the end of January 2019 . I see people on the board who are ready to take on the role and feel the group and its management are in good order to pass on. It’s a community role and the community deserves some variety and fresh ideas and leadership - people in our community also deserve a chance (as I was blessed with) to lead this great organisation and ‘give back’. I also make this decision for personal reasons, AusBG has taken a lot of my time over the years and I need to focus on my own advisory business Maysaffron, particularly the technology business and algorithm we have built this year and plan to launch in 2019. I look forward to supporting AusBG and AusBG supporting us as we do all this!

The new Chair will be announced after elections in late January. I have offered to stay on the AusBG board and support the group and new Chair as much as possible - particularly in the handover, and I intend to continue to Chair and drive ABMA.

I thank you all for your unwavering commitment to the group. I have been merely been a spoke in the wheel, it is TOGETHER that we have made all the great things AusBG is and has done. I have no doubt this will continue to grow and flourish. To the board, you have led this. To our members, sponsors and supporters - our community. You have enabled and made this. Be proud of yourselves and don’t stop, get involved.

I thank you for the support, the opportunity but more so, the great honour to lead such a wonderful community and look forward to remaining an active part of AusBG and fierce supporter of Team Australia well into the future.

Wishing you all a Happy Holidays and wonderful New Year, and AusBG looks forward to welcoming everyone back after the break.

Yours sincerely,
Ellecia Saffron
AusBG Chair

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