21st July, 2016
The 2nd GCC-British Economic Forum took place on 21st July 2016 in the elegant setting of Lancaster House, London, with some 250 delegates from the Gulf countries, Britain and around the world in attendance. The high-level forum, organised by the Arab British Chamber of Commerce, was widely hailed as a success by participants.
The day-long event provided a unique platform for British and Gulf decision makers to discuss common challenges and topical issues such as the economic vision of the GCC countries and the UK’s decision to withdraw from the European Union. The international conference was an opportunity to identify new areas of cooperation and to develop joint strategies for productive engagement.
Formally opening the Forum, Dr Afnan Al-Shuaiby, Secretary General & CEO, ABCC, expressed gratitude to all the supporters, sponsors and partners who had contributed to making the event possible. The 2nd GCC-Britain Economic Forum built on the success of the 1st GCC-Britain Economic Forum which was held in December 2014. The Chamber’s main commercial partner, PepsiCo, was warmly thanked for its generosity and vital contribution.
His Royal Highness, The Duke of York and His Excellency Dr Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council, were the opening keynote speakers. They were followed by H E Dr Majid bin Abdullah Al Qasabi, Minister of Commerce and Investment, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and H E Mr Zayed Rashid Al Zayani, Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Kingdom of Bahrain. The final keynote speaker was the Rt Hon Dr Liam Fox MP, the newly appointed Secretary of State for International Trade.
Rt Hon Baroness Symons, Chairman, ABCC, said that the impressive number of Gulf delegates attending the Forum was very encouraging. For his part, HRH The Duke of York praised the strong relationship between the UK and the GCC which was based on respect and cooperation.
The programme’s theme, “Vision, Challenges and Ambitions: Integration Prospects for a Better Future”, consisted of five sessions to address urgent topics such as economic reform, social and economic development, entrepreneurship, the role of public-private partnerships and the implications of “Brexit”. The timeliness and relevance of the programme was widely remarked upon.
The Forum’s speakers were drawn from the UK and the Gulf to pool their knowledge and expertise. The sessions were moderated and chaired by senior members of the House of Lords, namely the Rt Hon Baroness Morris of Bolton OBE, the Rt Hon the Lord Howell of Guildford, the Rt Hon the Lord King of Bridgwater, Lord Clement-Jones CBE and Rt Hon the Lord West of Spithead, who had all previously served as government ministers. The high-level speakers who participated in the five sessions came from business, law, banking, the universities and the media.
The Forum was attended by many Arab Ambassadors, senior business executives and many of the Chamber’s corporate members. The event attracted strong delegations from across the GCC. There was sufficient time allocated in the programme for networking and a real interest in the topics under discussion which was reflected in the lively exchange of ideas between the audience and speakers. In organising the Forum, the Chamber was fulfilling its strategic role in encouraging closer ties and cooperation between the UK and the Arab countries. The Chamber was widely praised for its successful organisation of the Forum.
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