ABES 2019


Wednesday 3rd July 2019

The Arab-British Economic Summit 2019: A Shared Vision took place on 3 July attracting hundreds of senior business executives, diplomats, government officials and investors with an interest in building stronger economic and commercial relations between the UK and the Arab World.

The Summit, which took place at the QEII Centre, Westminster, London, highlighted the enormous potential for closer UK-Arab cooperation and the keenness of both sides to strengthen their historic partnership.

ABES 2019, which was a conference and accompanying exhibition, succeeded in bringing together business representatives from all over the Arab World and across the regions of the UK to discuss their shared vision of working together to achieve common prosperity and to seize on the enormous opportunities that are opening up in key sectors. The event was heralded as one of the largest and most successful business events ever organised by the ABCC in its more than 40 year history of promoting Arab-British trade and commercial collaboration.

ABES 2019 Highlights

Keynote Speakers

Secretary General of the League of Arab States

Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf

Chairman of the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Minister of State for Trade Policy at the Department for International Trade
President of the Union of Arab Chambers

Lord Mayor of the City of London

Strategic Sponsor

Partners & Co-organisers (Sessions 5)

The Programme

  • Registration
  • Welcoming Remarks
  • Session 1
  • Coffee Break
  • Session 2
  • Session 3

8:00 - 08:50am

09:00 - 09:50am

  • H.E Mr Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Secretary General of the League of Arab States 
  • H.E Dr Abdulatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, Secretary-General of the GCC
  • H.E Mr Ali AlGhanim, Chairman of the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and First Vice Chairman ABCC
  • Mr George Hollingbery MP, Minister of State for Trade Policy, DIT
  • H.E Mr Mohamed Abdo Saeed, President of The Union of Arab Chambers
  • Alderman Peter Estlin, The Right Honourable the Lord Mayor of the City of London 

09:50 - 10:40am  Infrastructure, investment and sustainable development 

Both the UK and the Arab region face enormous difficulty in planning, building and maintaining a modern infrastructure. The session will look at what can be done to help ease these challenges in order to attract inward investment in this sector. Infrastructure can play a vital role in promoting sustainable economic development in the Arab World. Opportunities for cooperation and investment will be at the forefront of the discussion.


  • (Chair) Mr Mehdi Ben Abdallah, President, Tunisian British Chamber of Commerce
  • H.E Dr. Sami A. Alabidi, Chairman of Council of Saudi Chambers
  • Davide Stronati, Global Sustainability Leader, Mott MacDonald
  • Hussam Chakouf, Associate, Zaha Hadid Architects
  • James Kenny , Head of Global Affairs at Arup 

10:40 - 11:10am

11:10 - 12:00pm

Renewable vs non renewable energy

The Arab countries are starting to realise the full potential of renewable sources of energy for powering their major industries and for domestic consumption. The session will consider what still needs to be done to enable industries currently dependent on traditional carbon-based energy sources to switch to renewables. The investment opportunities in the sector will also be a prime focus of attention.


  • (Chair) Dr Ranald Spiers, Independent Director, Alcazar Energy
  • H.E. Dr. Abdulaziz Aluwaisheg, Assistant Secretary-General for Political and Negotiation Affairs, Gulf Cooperation Council
  • Frank Gordon, Head of Policy, Renewable Energy Association
  • Jeremy Short, Power Sector Director – Environment & Infrastructure Solutions UK, Wood plc
  • Dr. Samira A. S. Omar, Director General, Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research 

12:00 - 12:50pm

MENA: A hub for global markets

The MENA region has emerged as an important strategic ‘hub’ for facilitating trade between the UK, Europe and the new global markets such as Asia. Speakers will focus on the key sectors that can especially benefit from the MENA hub and the factors that make it most attractive to investors. Existing investment opportunities will be pinpointed as the region expands as a hub for inter-regional trade.


  • (Chair) Mr Oliver Cornock,  Editor- in-Chief, Oxford Business Group
  • Dr Adam Marshall, Director General, British Chambers of Commerce
  • Dr Alaa Ezz, Secretary General of the Union of African Chambers
  • H.E Dr Khaled Hanafy, Secretary General of Union of Arab Chambers
  • Mr Simon Penney, HM Trade Commissioner for the Middle East 
  • Lunch
  • Session 4
  • Session 5
  • Coffee Break
  • Session 6
  • Closing Remarks

12:50 - 01:50pm

01:50 - 02:40pm

Agriculture and water security

As the Arab region and the rest of the globe continue to experience a high rate of population growth, their agricultural sectors and water supply face considerable challenges. The session will consider to what extent the Arab world will rely on imports to meet local demand for food produce and highlight the investment and partnership opportunities as the region acts to develop sustainable agriculture.


  • (Chair) Sir Peter Kendall, CEO & Chairman Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board
  • Cornelia Richter, Vice-President, International Fund for Agricultural Development
  • Mrs Haifa Al Kaylani, Founder & Chairman of the Board of Trustees ,The Arab International Women’s Forum
  • Yousef Khalawi, Secretary General, Islamic Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (ICCIA)
  • Mr Fares Hassouna, Director, TNP Worldwide Ltd

02:40 -03:30pm

Youth employment and entrepreneurship

Youth are a major demographic group across the globe and, particularly, in the Arab World. While there are already a number of opportunities for youth out there, much needs to be done in order to mobilise this economically marginalized group, so as to allow them to reach their full potential in the labour market and reduce the skills mismatch. There are many areas in which investment can have a hugely positive effect; education, training, business mentoring, and provision of seed finance for start-ups, for example. Yet, even more opportunities are now arising with the increasingly widespread use of Artificial Intelligence/Big Data/Analytics and the need for soft and digital skills, which provide potential career paths for youth who are considered to be ‘tech natives’.potentially provides new career paths for youth, who are considered to be ‘tech natives’.


  • (Chair) Salvatore Nigro, CEO, EFE-Europe; Vice President, EFE
  • Andrew Baird, President and CEO, EFE
  • Barbara Rambousek, Director – Gender and Economic Inclusion EBRD
  • Carmen Haddad, Chief Country Officer Saudi Arabia, Citi
  • Jihane Lahbabi-Berrada, CEO, EFE-Maroc 

03:30 - 04:00pm

04:00 - 04:50pm

Banking and finance: fintech and blockchain

The session will explore how traditional banking in the UK and the Arab world can adapt to the disruptive impact of fintech on the financial industry. It will further consider whether the UK and Arab region possess the suitable infrastructure to enable a major fintech industry to flourish. Finally, speakers will address the potential opportunities for investment in the UK and Arab fintech industries.


  • (Chair) Mr. Manaf A. Alhajeri, CEO Markaz 
  • Anton Ruddenklou  , Head of Digital & Innovation, Financial Services & Partner, KPMG LLP​
  • H.E Azzam Shawwa, Governor of Palestine Monetary Authority 
  • Dotun Rominiyi, Blockchain Architect – Emerging Technologies , London Stock Exchange ( LSEG )
  • Shaikha K. Al-Bahar, Deputy Group Chief Executive Officer , NBK – Group (Strategic Sponsor Nomination)

04:50 - 05:00pm


  • H.E Ambassador Dr Husam S. Zomlot , Head of the Palestinian Mission to the United Kingdom 

The Venue

Located right in the heart of Westminster and within the shadows of historic London’s Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and London Eye, our venue, the QE11 Centre, is one of the UK capital’s pre-eminent spaces for corporate events, conventions, exhibitions and conferences. The centre boasts world-class facilities and a capacity of up to 2,500. The Centre is a very popular and successful venue hosting up to 400 meetings and events each year.


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The Arab-British Chamber of Commerce is the only business support organisation in the UK whose remit covers the rich diversity of the Arab region that stretches from North Africa through the Maghreb and Eastern Mediterranean to the Gulf.

As such the ABCC is uniquely placed to assist in the promotion of bilateral trade and investment between Britain and the Arab countries. To achieve this end, we work closely with government ministries, official trade and investment bodies, the Arab diplomatic missions in London, the League of Arab States and the extensive national and international network of the Arab and British Chambers of Commerce. The Chamber’s distinguishing motto: ‘Friendship through Trade’ reflects the core aims of our organisation and its mission.

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