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Chamber News and recent Activities

Seminar: Riding the wave of business opportunities in the Gulf

Zaventem – 26 November 2013


Until very recently, the Arab Gulf Region was somewhat unknown territory to many Belgian SME’s. Thanks to the seminar “Riding the wave of business opportunities in the Gulf” organized by ABLCC member company CONMEC in collaboration with Etihad Airways and the ABLCC, this no longer holds true.

The Gulf region represents a fast-growing economy with a broad middle and upper class and a large market for top quality products and unique services, where opportunities extend far beyond the classical oil, gas and petrochemical industries. This was a point aptly made by the seminar which provided Belgian SME’s with an introduction to the region on the basis of informative presentations by experts and business cases.

image31Mr. Qaisar Hijazin, SG of the ABLCC, speaking at the seminar

After warm words of welcome were spoken by Mr. Sam Verdonck, Business Development Manager at CONMEC, the main organizer of the event, and Mr. Qaisar Hijazin, Secretary General of the ABLCC, the floor was given to Mr. Samer Merhbi, General Manger of Eurolink Business Development. Mr. Merhbi bravely took on the task of covering all aspects of trade and investment relations with the Gulf, and shared with the audience his yearlong experience in assisting European companies to set up business in the Gulf.

Representatives of a number of Belgian SME’s successfully active in the Gulf then testified to the fact that the region has a lot on offer for medium and small sized companies active outside the oil and gas sectors. Well-known to the international hotel market since many decades, Mr. Paul Aeck, General Manager at De Witte Lietaer International Textiles, explained how his company was able to gain a firm foothold in the emirate of Dubai.

image32Front row, fltr: Ms. Ann Ramaekers, Prof. Dr. Marc Noppen and Mr. Qaisar Hijazin

Prof. Dr. Marc Noppen, Managing Director and Chairman at UZ Brussels, then offered his reflections on the recent boom of the healthcare industry in the Middle East, and the strategies followed by the university hospital to get on board, providing the audience with his insights on the local business culture.

Able to call the Gulf his second home since his company set up business there in 2007, Mr. Schelfhaut of Maintenance Partners (MP) shed light on his professional experience and the do’s and don’ts of doing business in the region. The company active in maintenance, repair and revision of rotating machines set up a local branch as a joint venture with three local partners in Dubai. Before the event was wrapped up with an orientally inspired business networking lunch, Ms. Ann Ramaekers, General Manager of Etihad Airways in Belgium, provided attendants with an overview of Etihad’s business travel solutions to the Middle East and beyond.

For more information on doing business in the Gulf or to get in touch with the speakers, visit or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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