Newsletter 12/2019

Chairman's Message

Chairperson's Address

Dear AusBG members,

We started the year with the question “are we turning the corner?” with The Economist in our Australian Business Group MENA Political and Economic Review.  For many in our business community the question remains open and under discussion.  Through the 30 events we’ve hosted throughout the year, we’ve had a lot of healthy debate with the support of Austrade, DFAT and our members through our roundtable updates, Australian Story and joint business group events. 

Whilst the challenges and opportunities remain and the question of turning the corner continues into 2020, there’s certainly a lot of new activity on the horizon.  With the G20 Summit happening in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in November 2020, Australia will see as many as 14 ministerial visits through the region.  Of course we have Expo 2020 Dubai with Australia having a strong presence, continuing on the promotion of the region to Australia.  We’ll see a stronger focus on the region, hopefully providing more clarity to international markets about the opportunities and debunking some of the myths, giving it renewed focus for two-way trade and investment.  Australian companies have already signed contracts to the extent of $150 million for Expo 2020, and will likely see that increase over the next year.  In Abu Dhabi, many of our members are also reporting the impact of the Ghadan 21 fund and the stimulation of the economy. 

With an important year on the horizon, we welcome and appreciate the continued close working relationship with the Embassy, Austrade and State Commissioners.  We will also welcome a new Ambassador early in the new year and look forward to continued collaboration. We’re proud to be the first business group to formalise an agreement with the Australian Pavilion for Expo 2020 Dubai, which will allow collaboration on content, calendars, and business opportunities for Australian Business Group members.

Sadly, we are farewelling HE Arthur Spyrou and Britt Spyrou this month as they move on to start a new chapter.  During Arthur’s tenure in the Abu Dhabi post we have had meaningful support, sharing information and openly discussing the issues at the heart of many of our members.  Britt has been an incredible champion for our expat spouse community, working with us to create a series of events with resounding impact within the community, reporting back to Canberra to ensure that this programme can have further reach.  More than anything, we farewell Arthur, Britt and the boys as friends and great supporters and thank them for opening their home and hearts to us. 

Thank you to our members who have made this year a success.  Our membership numbers have grown in a difficult economic climate, where many business groups are seeing a decline.  We have seen a stronger attendance and demand for events, many events being sold out.  We’ve had a lot of serious discussion, but in true Australian way, we’ve also had a lot of fun along the way not to mention ANZAC Ball and Taste of Australia!  Thank you for your active support, for turning up and being part of the conversation. 

It’s been an honour to work with you and represent you in my first year as Chairperson.  I wish you all a wonderful Christmas with friends and family, however you celebrate and a positive and energetic run into the new year. 

The entire AusBG board look forward to seeing you and working with you in 2020.  


Kate Midttun


AusBG 2019



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