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Newsletter 12/2020

A Message from The ABCD Board | Chair: Carl Dowling

 

Dear ABCD Members and Community, 

I often find that in harder times the best conversation to have is a very open and honest one. Did 2020 live up to your expectations? Unless you manufacture face masks and gloves, probably not.  It has been a tough year for many of us both personally and professionally.  But is it one to forget about, I firmly disagree and here is my argument why.

Nothing brings Australians together more than a challenge; we love being the underdog, all too often punching above our weight. This year we have battled bushfires, pandemics and austerity measures. No matter what challenge may come our way, tough times always pull us closer together than ever; attributes that permeate our mission as a business council. 

We cannot forget how significant 2020 has been for Australia on the world stage. When we faced bushfires, the world stepped up with even our own Burj Khalifa lighting up with the Red Crescent appeal ‘Mates help Mates’. When our largest trading partner introduced 200% tax on our favourite grape product, many world leaders and the like stepped up to say, it’s time to support our mates and drink a bottle (or two).  

It doesn’t matter where you are from, you don’t receive a level of  international support this significant for no reason.  As much as ‘brand Australia’ can push our common message forward, it is the individual ground roots-level efforts that really set the tone for who we are as a nation and what values we cherish the most. We saw Australians all over the UAE helping not just each other, but anyone in need. Be it arranging meals and flights for families struggling to get home from the UAE, or others donating vehicles to Animal Shelters to help the rescue efforts for our four-legged friends.  

In what could only be described as one of the proudest moments of the ABCD, our own General Manager, Lisa Meli came together with Donna Benton, Peter Skuditis, Kris Fade and many other supporters to help deliver a fundraising event which raised AED375,365 for victims of the Australian bushfires. Nothing can compare with the values and mateship Australians share between each other and the world.  

Whilst 2020 has proven to be one of the toughest years yet for Australians in the UAE, for the ABCD it definitely became the year of the webinar; a total of 39 webinars to be exact. Ranging from industry updates, member spotlights or legal updates and the first ever virtual trade mission with the ABCD in partnership with AACCI facilitating a series of webinars with the Dubai Foreign Direct Investment team. All organised and executed remotely with well over 400 attendees across the series.  

Whilst much of the year went without in-person events, we were fortunate to hold our AFL Grand Final Lunch and the ABCD Melbourne Cup together with a few member evenings offering at least a window to what will hopefully see a bit more normality returning to the business community soon. 2021 is already shaping up positively whether it be from opportunities arising from the historic normalisation of ties between the UAE and Israel, or the many legislative changes making the UAE an even more progressive place to live.

At this time, I would like to say thank you to all the members, sponsors, government partners, board members, office team and especially to our own General Manager, Lisa, for helping bring the Australian community closer together this year. Without their support we could not provide the Australian community with the platform we have. For 26 years the ABCD has delivered connectivity and business opportunities for Australians in the UAE and wider region, which is no small feat. The ABCD remains one of the largest and most respected Business Groups in the Middle East and we have much more to come. 

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Jen Worthington, event manager for the ABCD for all her hard work in putting together some of the best events we have held over the last few years, she will be missed but can now hopefully attend a few nights out without having to work!

Looking ahead, we are fully committed to the Australian business community and to our development as a not-for-profit organisation in support. It is essential to continually develop to ensure we are equipped to meet the challenges, and realise the opportunities, that face us today and in the future; understanding that as a community, we drive a powerful network of creating value for each other.

It is important to reflect on 2020 and remember not the struggles we faced, but the accomplishments we made in adversity.  It goes without saying I hope all your families stay safe and for those travelling back to Australia for the festive season, safe travels…………… and a peaceful quarantine.

I hope to see many of you back in Dubai in 2021.

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