2021 began with cautious optimism as mass vaccinations began to roll out and air travel slowly increased. However, with the emergence of COVID-19 variants and inequities in vaccine distributions, most countries, including Singapore, continue to be vigilant and manoeuvre carefully through the course of the year by regularly reviewing and updating COVID-19 safety regulations and measures. In this roller coaster of a year, staying flexible, agile, and resilient was key for the UAE Singapore Business Council (UAESBC) and this was clearly reflected in the nature of the events we organised throughout 2021:
UAESBC Quarterly Talks Series Resume Physically and Virtually
Our first and only UAESBC Quarterly talk in hybrid format was held on 10th of March. The talk entitled "Whither the Middle East?" by speaker, Dr James Dorsey, a Senior Fellow at the Rajaratnam School of International Studies and a renowned Middle East commentator. During the talk, Dr Dorsey shared his perspectives of the latest geo-political developments in the Middle East and engaged in an interesting Q&A discussion with the audience after his presentation. The event was attended by 34 guests at the Singapore Cricket Club who were served afternoon tea, while 33 participants attended the event virtually via Zoom.
UAESBC's first workshop in 2021 was a joint effort with two major local business chambers namely, the Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SICCI) and the Singapore Malay Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SMCCI). The event featured speakers representing Abu Dhabi Chamber, Dubai Chamber and Emirates NBD bank. Audiences also got a glimpse of the beautiful award-winning Singapore Pavilion at the EXPO2020 Dubai through a presentation by URA. The webinar entitled "Business Opportunities in the UAE in the Post COVID19 Era" was attended by more than 90 participants via Zoom. The webinar was a precursor for a joint business mission to the UAE among members of the 3 business organisations in conjunction with EXPO2020 Dubai in Q1 of 2022.
The 4th UAESBC AGM was held on the 28th April and it was also the second AGM organised in the hybrid format. Amidst social distancing restrictions at the Singapore Cricket Club, slightly more than 30 members attended in-person and more than 10 members attended the AGM virtually including our members who Zoom-ed in from UAE and USA.
The AGM began with an introduction to the new UAESBC Patron, His Excellency Jamal Al Suwaidi, the newly appointed UAE Ambassador to Singapore, whose credentials were received by Singapore President, Mdm Halimah Yacob, less than a month before the event. The main itinerary of the AGM was the election of UAESBC Office Bearers and EXCO Members which was proposed, supported and elected without any challenges.
Our first joint collaboration with a UAE entity this year was with the reputable and renowned, Abu Dhabi Ports. The event entitled "Abu Dhabi: Gateway for Singaporean Businesses to the UAE and Middle East" was attended by more than 200 participants from Singapore and the UAE. Attendees received first-hand information from Abu Dhabi Investment Office on the latest incentives from UAE for foreign businesses. The webinar featured a presentation from Abu Dhabi Ports featuring the excellent infrastructure and support system available at their two industrial zones: KIZAD and Zones Corp. The event also included an interesting panel discussion with representatives of COSCO Shipping Lines, JOCIC (Jiangsu Province Overseas Cooperation And Investment Company) and Control & Electrics, a Singapore based company under Boustead Singapore. The company representatives shared their personal experiences and expertise with the attendees in setting up operations in KIZAD and how this decision has positively impacted their businesses.
Our second event in collaboration with UAE entities in 2021, namely UAE Embassy in Singapore and the Fujairah Chamber of Commerce & Industry (FUJCCI), was our annual flagship event the Oil, Petrochemical and Logistics (OPL) Seminar on 18th August 2021. The GOH for the event were Singapore Minister of State for Trade & Industry, Ms Low Yen Ling, along with the UAE Ambassador to Singapore and the UAESBC Patron: His Excellency Jamal Al Suwaidi and the Director-General of Fujairah Chamber, His Excellency Sultan Al Hendaasi. The event also featured distinguished line-up of speakers representing key industry leaders namely, ADNOC, Borouge, ENOC, First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) and Horizon Terminals. In addition, exclusively for this year, the event had a special focus on the Fujairah Oil Industry Zone (FOIZ) and presenters representing FOIZ as well as Singapore companies who have presence in Fujairah.
The event was viewed by more than 100 attendees and was reported by Channel NewsAsia in their Singapore Tonight 10pm bulletin where our Guest of Honour, Minister of State for Trade & Industry Ms Low Yen Ling and UAESBC President, Dr Brian Shegar were featured.
On 28th July, the UAESBC presented our eleventh Quarterly Talk that featured experts in the MedTech sector who are founding partners of Singapore MedTech Accelerator: Dr Eitan Konstantino and Mr Steve Wiesner. Dr Konstantino and Mr Wiesner together have had more than 30 years experience in MedTech from running, investing and incubating in companies from Silicon Valley, to Israel to Singapore. With his vast experience, Dr Konstantino shared his perception on the pros and cons in the three countries in their approach and facilitation of medical innovations and technologies. The two speakers also shared further in the Q&A the philosophies and attitude required for entrepreneurs to be successful in this field.
Our final serving this year of the Quarterly Talk Series was a talk by Chief Economist of Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Dr Monica Malik. One of our most popular speakers in the Series, Dr Malik spoke "live" from Abu Dhabi and shared the economic outlook of the countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council who are not just key players in global energy markets, but also play significant roles in international trade and global investments.
In collaboration with the UAE Embassy in Singapore and Enterprise Singapore, the UAESBC was honoured to organise a webinar that featured representatives of UAE ministries and agencies that are responsible for planning, implementing and promoting newly-announced ground-breaking incentives for the business community and professionals living in the UAE. The impressive line up of speakers represented the following:
- Ministry of Economy
- Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology
- Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development
- Abu Dhabi Investment Office
The incentives discussed include the 100% ownership of UAE businesses to foreign investors, the Golden Visa scheme and many other programs that aim to boost confidence in local markets and boost the country’s economic diversification plan.
The UAESBC and the UAE Embassy in Singapore jointly organised the first ever event that focussed on businesswomen both in the UAE & Singapore". The webinar was held on 15th September and was graced by a line-up of remarkable and inspiring women leaders from both the public and private sectors representing UAE and Singapore led by our Guests of Honour, Her Excellency Sim Ann, Singapore Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and National Development, and Her Excellency Shamma Faris Al Mazrui, UAE Minister for Youth Affairs. Following the Addresses by both GOHs, the audience were privileged to view two Keynote Speeches delivered by leading and respected business women in Singapore and the UAE namely: Ms Chew Gek Khim, Chairperson of The Straits Trading Company, and Dr Lamya Fawwaz, Executive Director, Brand & Strategic Initiatives, MASDAR (Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company). The webinar then proceeded with a lively panel discussion with 4 businesswomen. Representing Singapore were Ms Michelle Cheo, CEO of Mewah International, and Ms Helene Raudaschl, Founder and CEO of Indoguna Productions FZCO. Representing the UAE were Ms Shatha Al Mulla, Creative Director of SHATHA ESSA (Dubai), and Ms Salama Al Shamsi, Director of Qasr al Hosn & Historic Sites at the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture & Tourism.
The UAESBC presented our first healthcare focused event entitled “Opportunities in Healthcare and HealthTech in the United Arab Emirates” on 14th October 2021. The webinar was graced by the attendance of GOH, His Excellency Jamal Al Suwaidi, and Dr Brian Shegar, President of the UAESBC. The webinar kicked off with an informative presentation by UAESBC members: Mr Steve Wiesner of Singapore Medical Accelerator and Dr Arpan David from White Hole Hub who demonstrated that the Global medical device markets will continue to rise in line with increasing healthcare spending and population growth and how this is the trajectory for the UAE and Singapore. The event then featured a distinguished line-up of experts representing key agencies in the UAE namely Abu Dhabi Investment Office and Dubai Health Authority as well as panellists representing Singapore companies in Healthcare/HealthTech who have ventured into the UAE market namely: BioMind, Aevice Health and Napier Healthcare.
The UAESBC 2021 calendar ended on a high note with our annual flagship event: the UAE Investment Workshop 2021. The event this year puts a spotlight on “Opportunities in Smart City and IT”. A distinguished line-up of industry experts spoke at the webinar representing key UAE agencies namely Abu Dhabi Investment Office and Digital Dubai; smart city industry leader, Surbana Jurong; and successful SMEs in the field: uHoo, Groundup.Ai, Graymatics and KDi Asia. The interesting event sparked the interest on Smart Cities and IT for many of the attendees who tuned in from both Singapore and the UAE.
As we move into 2022, the Council hopes to be able to present to you more educational and impactful events that will inform, empower and motivate you in your business objectives. Till next year, may all our steadfastness and resilience throughout the challenging past two years bear bountiful successes in the post-Pandemic era.