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Newsletter 05/2015

Austrade update | Australia Unlimited MENA program


April was an extremely busy month with our annual flagship event, Australia Unlimited MENA taking place from 12-19 April in UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. And for the second consecutive year, the Australian Minister for Trade and Investment, The Hon. Andrew Robb AO MP, visited the region to participate in the Australia Unlimited MENA program and meet with senior Ministers in the UAE, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar to continue to seek support for relaunching negotiations for a free trade agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council.

As part of the Australia Unlimited MENA program, Austrade hosted a culinary competition, in partnership with Meat and Livestock Australia on 7 April 2015 at the International Centre for Culinary Arts (ICCA). The competition was launched to celebrate Australian produce and culinary talent, and Austrade invited culinary school students to compete with a skilled mentor who guided teams throughout the process.

Teams from five culinary schools in the UAE were challenged to create dishes from a 'mystery box of ingredients'. The top honours went to two students from ICCA winning a trip to Melbourne and a five-day apprenticeship at either Shannon Bennet's restaurant Vue De Monde or Matteo's, owned by Matteo Pignatelli. Judges were Chef Tarek Ibrahim from MLA, Chef Uwe Micheel, President Emirates Culinary Guild, and Editor of BBC Good Food magazine. Mentors included – Greg Malouf; Tom Arnel from Tom and Serge; Justin Galea, Director of F&B and Executive Chef at Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi; Matthew Goodlet, Executive Sous Chef, Atlantis, The Palm; and Alex Ferriss, Executive Sous Chef, jones the grocer. 

Coinciding with the start of AU MENA week, Choithrams supermarket, in partnership with Lawand Trade launched the ‘Australian Goodness Festival’ across all its stores in the UAE. The two week festival took place from 12-25 April and featured over 500 Australian items. Live cooking demonstrations and food sampling sessions were organized across all Choithrams. 20% discount on a selection of Australian products was offered and an all-expense paid trip for two to Australia was up for grabs. Minister Robb inaugurated the promotion at Choithrams’ flagship store in the Green Community. 

On 12 April, the Australia Unlimited MENA campaign commenced at Conrad hotel with Minister Robb doing the official opening along with Ambassador Pablo Kang and dignitaries from the UAE government - HE Sultan Butti Bin Mejren – Director General, Dubai Land Department; HE Majida Ali Rashed, Assistant Director General, Dubai Land Department & Director of Dubai Real Estate Promotion Center, Dubai Land Department; and HE Abdulla Mohammed Rafia – Assistant Director General for Engineering & Planning Sector, Dubai Municipality. Rohan Garnett from Qantas, and John Butler from State Government of Victoria, were also part of the ribbon cutting. This was followed by business seminars that focused on sustainable urban development, healthcare and primary care.

There were three core strands to AU MENA 2015, including the ministerial mission, which had bilateral trade, sovereign wealth funds and furthering the FTA discussions on the agenda; the CEO mission, which included 16 senior executives from Australia’s leading business organizations and universities accompanying the minister and the trade missions, which focused on sustainable urban development, education and vocational training. Additionally there was a parliamentary delegation from Western Australia led by the Hon Michael Sutherland, who is the current Speaker of the Western Australian Legislative Assembly.

On the eve of 12 April we hosted an AU MENA 2015 Gala Dinner at the One & Only Royal Mirage. Minister Robb addressed an audience of 255 guests and recognized Emirati achievements that have fostered strong UAE-Australia relations. H.E. Shaima Al Zarooni, the CEO of International Humanitarian City (IHC) in Dubai was presented the ‘Outstanding Alumna’ award. Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD), which manages Dubai Government’s portfolio of commercial companies and investments, was recognized for their ‘Outstanding Contribution to UAE-Australia Trade and Investment Relations’. Dr Shaikha Aisha Al Maskari, was presented with an award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to UAE-Australia Relations.’ She established Maskari Holding (AMH) in 2008, the privately owned holding company, which controls the family's operating subsidiaries, joint venture companies, strategic partnerships, and private equity. 

On 13 April, the visiting delegations had a full-fledged program in Abu Dhabi, which included meetings with KHDA, Abu Dhabi Environment Agency, Masdar Institute, Urban Planning Council, VET Institutional Site Visit to Mohamed Bin Zayed Campus and a Higher Education delegates’ luncheon with Government Partners & Corporate Sponsors followed by a networking reception at the Ambassador’s residence. From there on the AU MENA program moved to Riyadh from 14-15 April; and Kuwait on 16 and 19 April. Minister Robb was part of the Riyadh program where he participated at the Saudi-Australia Business Forum hosted by the Council of Saudi Chambers of Commerce & Industry and with Saudi Australia Business Council and trade mission delegates; alumni reception at the Australian Embassy; opening of the International Higher Education Conference & Exhibition (IECHE); and Investment roundtable on Opportunities in Australian Agribusiness & Food on 15 April.

The Kuwait program focused on providing targeted meetings for the education and training, and sustainable urban development delegates visiting from Australia. Overall we delivered a successful program which couldn’t have been possible without our sponsors – Dubai Land Department, Qantas, State Government of Victoria, DAFZA, Navitas, One & Only Resorts, Macquarie Capital, Modelcraft, Raine & Horne, University of Wollongong Dubai, Western Australia Trade Office, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, Servcorp, and Box Hill Institute.

Mr. Gerard Seeber

Australian Consul-General, Dubai and ABCD member

Austrade MENA

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