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Best of 2020 - The Year We Persisted

Most of us agree that 2020 has been a challenging year especially for those in sectors that are directly impacted by the restrictions required to curb the spread of COVID19. We have had to adapt and push our creativity to the fullest in order to stay afloat and run our businesses throughout the COVID19 era. The UAESBC was especially inspired by our members from these sectors such as the travel and retail industries who overcame and persisted through the challenges of the Pandemic. This motivated us to, not only continue our regular programmes, but also engage in individual and small group meetings with members and strategic partners to discuss issues facing such members to the relevant agencies and bodies.

For our own events and activities, the UAESBC began adopting digital solutions for all Council activities even before the Phase 1 Circuit Breaker began on 7th April. We also engaged in many collaborative programmes through out 2020 with both old and new collaborative partners and institutions both in Singapore and around the world. Below is a brief non-exhaustive summary of our activities this year which showcases the Council's versatility and perseverance in the past 12 months:

On 13th January, the UAESBC organised our first joint networking session between UAESBC members and members of the Singapore Malay Chambers of Commerce & Industry (SMCCI). This was our first and only event in 2020 where all attendees were able to physically meet. The networking session were preceded by speeches and presentations by UAESBC, SMCCI, UAE Embassy, Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce & Industry, the SME Center @ SMCCI as well as URA’s International Relations department who presented on the Singapore Pavilion in EXPO2020 Dubai. The objective of the networking session was to encourage awareness of the opportunities of expanding businesses to the UAE and gauge interest on a proposed joint business mission to the UAE in conjunction with EXPO2020. Back then, we all had no idea of what was in store for the remaining of the year...

The UAESBC was one of the few organisations under the Registry of Societies that conducted our 2020 Annual General Meeting on schedule on 26th March just before Phase 1 of the Circuit Breaker began. The meeting was organised at the Parkview Square Level 24 Board Room under strict social distancing and safe entry monitoring. This was UAESBC's first event where the Zoom Meeting software was used accommodating a hybrid event format in which a quorum of members attended in person and online. At the AGM, the 2020 Executive Committee and Sub-Committees Line-Up were nominated and elected smoothly and, more importantly, safely. In case you forgot, March was before the mandatory mask wearing requirement was imposed and hence why we were mask-less in the photo.

UAESBC Quarterly Talks Goes Virtual

This regular feature in the UAESBC's events calendar went fully virtual this year. Our first talk was initially scheduled for end of February but due to concerns over public safety at the onset of the Pandemic, we mutually agreed with featured speaker, His Excellency Bilahari Kausikan, to postpone his talk to 10th June. The seasoned diplomat and International Relations expert shared his wisdom and wit with more than 50 participants on the topic of "Geo-Political Trends in the Indo-Pacific". Click Here for the write-up and photos of the event as well as the link to the video recording.

UAESBC's second quarterly talk in 2020 was by our beloved Chief Economist, Dr Monica Malik of the Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank on 2nd September. Dr Malik presented findings of her team's research on the overview of how the GCC countries got through the initial phases of the COVID19 and what are the possible outlook and trends for the region in the months.

Our final talk of 2020 featured UAESBC's founding President, Dr Brian Shegar, on 18th November. Dr Shegar, who has more than 40 years experience in banking across the world including the Middle East, shared information and findings of his in-depth research into the history and significant themes on the Middle East. Attendees found the talk enlightening and has given them a better understanding of the intricacies of the Middle East through an interesting and concise presentation.

Webinars Galore!

The UAESBC's Workshops and Seminars Sub-Committee was the busiest sub-comm this year. Not only were we busy organising our own flagship workshops and seminars, we also collaborated, supported and co-organised several other webinars with local and overseas partners such as:

The Sub-Comm members quickly learnt at the onset of the Work From Home requirement caused by the Pandemic, that webinars allowed us to feature experts and speakers from across the Globe. In addition, through the webinar platform we were also able to spread UAESBC's outreach globally as attendees of webinars were based not only in Singapore but from a variety of countries including China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, United Kingdom, Sweden, Australia and the USA. Below is a list of all the webinars we organised or participated in 2020. You can click on the webinar names to access the summary of each event:

Doubling Up on Social Responsibility

The UAESBC Social Sub-Comm were determined to help as many people as possible in this difficult year. Therefore, with the blessings of the UAESBC EXCO, the Sub-Comm decided to double up our charity efforts this year:

The UAESBC donated $5,000 to the Arab Network @Singapore (AN@S) towards the funding of the UAESBC-AN@S Bursary Award 2021. The bursary will go towards deserved low-income Singaporean students of Arab lineage, especially those whose family were impacted by the economic challenges of #COVID19. The bursary also includes mentoring programme that aims to empower the recipients holistically in their academic, personal and professional outlook.

The UAESBC pledged $10,000 to an e-recycling programme which aims to help vulnerable families in the East Coast GRC. The funds is used to purchase energy-saving light bulbs in the HDB units of disadvantaged households in the GRC to reduce their energy usage and electricity bills. The cheque was presented to East Coast GRC GROs on 20th December to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and Adviser to East Coast GRC GROs, Dr Maliki Osman. At the cheque presentation ceremony, Dr Maliki announced that the South East CDC has committed to match the donation amount and therefore altogether $20,000 will be used to benefit 400 families all across the East Coast GRC for the programme. UAESBC members spent the same afternoon visiting houses of vulnerable families in the East Coast GRC to install some of the energy-saving light bulbs. The event was covered by all major news outlets including CNA, Channel 5, Channel 8, Suria, Medicorp Radio News, Straits Times, Lianhe Zaobao and Berita Harian. It was a memorably positive and humbling experience for all UAESBC volunteers that day and a touching end for 2020.

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