10th Doing Business with Arab Countries: Digitalization & Innovation

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The Chamber and SGS organised on 02 October a 10th edition of Doing Business with Arab Countries focused on Digitalization & Innovation.
This yearly seminar has become a reference for those who wish to get key updates and concrete insights into the Arab business world.

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For this 10th edition, we wanted to focus on a theme that particularly reflects the year 2019, which led us to the question of digitalization and innovation. Indeed, it has become evident that digital technologies are leaving no geographic region, business sector or civilization untouched. That is also the case for the Arab world.
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We have seen that digital transformation does not only consist of the integration of digital technology into everyday life, but also in the transformation of the way we live, and in consequence, the way we produce, consume, trade and do business with each other. Digital transformation is challenging, but also offers a fertile ground for innovation, and the speakers did not fail to share the taste of it.
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After Mr. Fadel Al Faraj, Managing Director of Q8 Northwest Europe presented the Q8's reaction to digitalization and its subsequent transformation, Mr. Nicolas Debray came with a more theoretical approach to digital transformation and addressed the issue of digitalization in the world of SME's. BESIX, too, delivered presented its approach to digital technologies with Mssrs. Ayman Chalak (Business Development International) and Juan Nolet (BIM).
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Finally, three Belgian companies - Medicor, CJ-ICM and Settlemint - shared their experience in doing business with Arab countries and addressed the question of digital issues, in a panel, which was moderated by our partner Ms. Evelien Staelens, Area Manager at the Flanders Investment & Trade Agency.
During the networking buffet, participants exchanged and dicussed about questions of mutual interest with their counterparts and the economic attachés from numerous Arab embassies. Mr. Sam Servaes, economic attaché at the Embassy of Belgium in Kuwait, too, attended the event.  
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Arabic Language Project - VUB

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The Vice-Rector Internationalisation of VUB Prof. dr. Romain Meeusen, Flanders Investment & Trade General Manager Ms. Tillekaerts and ABLCC Secretary General Qaisar Hijazin took the floor on the occasion of the Arabic Language Project networking event at VUB on 30 September.

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The Project team then presented the benefits of learning Arabic with a special focus on socio-cultural and economic dimensions. By promoting secular Arabic classes in schools (third language) and in the academia (minor), the Project aims to focus on the language per se and therefore widen the offer in Belgium. It provides those who are willing to learn Arabic with challenging assets that will be valued in professional life as Arab countries represent significant economic partners of Belgium.

More information: https://platform.vubsocialentrepreneurship.com/project/9787

Visit of a High-Level Delegation from Oman to Belgium

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In close collaboration with the Omani Embassy, the ABLCC arranged the visit of a high-level delegation from the Sultanate of Oman, headed by H.E. Minister Yahya AL JABRI. The delegation was comprised of senior representatives from the Special Economic Zone at Duqm (SEZAD), Oman Investment Authorities (Ithraa), Port of Duqm, Oman Oil, Oman Dry Dock and Duqm Quarries. Oman TV covered the entire visit and published a series of TV reportages. 
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 From left to right: Mr. Qaisar HIJAZIN, H.E. Dr. Raoul DELCORDE, Mr. Johan BEERLANDT, H.E. Mr. Yayha AL JABRI, H.E. Mr. Najeem AL ABRI
ABLCC-SEZAD Business Forum
On this occasion, the Chamber co-organised on 9 September 2019 a business forum with SEZAD at THE HOTEL Brussels. The words of H.E. Raoul Delcorde, Director MENA of the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Mr. Johan Beerlandt, ABLCC Chairman - along with the presence of a dozen of Arab ambassadors - significantly contributed to the success of the event, which gathered nearly 80 people from various companies and agencies. The seminar “Oman, A Country of Promising Opportunities” was followed by a business lunch and a B2B session. 
Visit to John Cockerill and Armstrong International
Wallonia Investment & Trade Agency AWEX kindly invited the delegation to visit our sponsor John Cockerill and the company Armstrong International on 10 September. The visit was followed by a business lunch in the Castle of Colonster in presence of Mr. Luc Gillard, MP-President of the Province of Liege, Ms. Marielle Germis, Head of AWEX Liege and the companies Hamon Therma, TD Williamson and Widetech. 
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Port of Antwerp
The delegation then headed to Antwerp where they were welcomed by the Governor Cathy Berx and the Honorary Vice-Mayor Philip Heylen. The Port of Antwerp - which is a close partner of the Port of Duqm - organised a 2-days forum. A business seminar presenting PoA’s priorities for the future and the opportunities of investment in Duqm took place in the famous Port House, created by Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid. 
Ultimately, the delegation visited the port area and attended a dinner in the presence of the Ambassador of Oman, Antwerp authorities and ABLCC Secretary General. 
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About Duqm…
Duqm is originally a port town located on the Arabian Sea. The Port of Duqm was further developed through a 50-50 joint venture between the Government of Oman and the Port of Antwerp. A Belgian consortium was in charge of the construction of the new port and drydock and SEZAD has been appointed responsible for the management of all economic activities in Duqm. Since, Duqm has become one of the main commercial doors of the Peninsula and is well connected to Europe and the rest of the world through a highly advanced logistic network.
The Special Economic Zone around the Port of Duqm is the biggest in the Middle East and allows the establishment of a large range of megaprojects. The zone is divided into 8 subareas : port, drydock, oil refinery, regional airport, industries complex, logistics services and residential - commerical and tourism area. Special measures have been developed and implemented to ensure ecological balance, proper mobility and offer a pleasant living environment to the inhabitants and expat community of Duqm.


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Business Delegation from Erbil

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The ABLCC had the pleasure to welcome a business delegation from Erbil (Iraq), headed by H.E. Dr. Dara Jalil Khalil Khayat, Chairman of the Chamber, on Thursday, 26 September 2019.
Belgian companies from different participated in the business brunch and discussed about the opportunities of exchange with the Kurdistan region of Iraq. ABLCC Secretary General Mr. Qaisar Hijazin moderated the conversation and praised the dynamism of the region. The delegation, mostly represented by local Chambers and company representatives, underlined that the industry is already well installed but also insisted that western technologies and know-how would be most welcome.
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Launch of the Jordan-Belgian Business & Friendship Association

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On the occasion of the launch of the Jordan-Belgian Business & Friendship Association (JBFA), Mr. Qaisar Hijazin had the honour to represent the ABLCC at the reception organised on 4 August 2019 by H.E. Hendrik Van de Velde, Ambassador of Belgium in Jordan. 

It was a also a pleasant occasion to meet with H.E. Dr. Yousef Bataineh, Ambassador of Jordan in Belgium. 

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The Chamber truly praises the efforts deployed by both Ambassadors. The JBFA will foster business links and further cultural and social relations between the Kingdoms of Belgium and Jordan. 

The ABLCC wishes a lot of success to the new Association and its members and good luck to H.E. Mr. Van de Velde in his new mission to represent Belgium in Canada. 

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