Abu Dhabi, 21 February 2017, Westin Hotel

The Embassy of Canada in Abu Dhabi, and the Canadian Business Council (CBC), organized the annual International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) Networking Reception on Tuesday, 21 February 2017, at the Westin Hotel Abu Dhabi. More than 200 business executives, Military and defense VIPs from the Canadian and UAE business community attended the reception, including delegations from Canadian companies that participated at IDEX 2017.

The Platinum and Gold sponsors of the reception exhibited their booths in the foyer of the Ballroom, and the guests would pass by to pick up brochures and look at the cutting edge designs of the banners. The event sponsors were Bombardier Specialized Aircraft (Platinum sponsor), General Dynamics (GD) Mission Systems Canada and General Dynamics Land Systems Canada (Platinum sponsor), CAE Inc. (Gold sponsor), PAL Aerospace (Gold sponsor), Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) (Silver sponsor), and DEW Engineering (Bronze sponsor).

H. E. Masud Husain, Canada’s Ambassador to the (United Arab Emirates), made the welcoming remarks, recognizing the great turnout and acknowledging the presence of high ranking Military officials from Canada. His Excellency thanked the sponsors for their support and he spoke about the importance of such events in bringing together the local community and Canadian delegations. He concluded by highlighting the Canada 150 milestone, Canada’s 150th anniversary, and what it represents to all Canadians and those living in the UAE.

Mr. Ronan Caillo, Commercial Counsellor at the Embassy of Canada in the UAE and Master of Ceremony (MC) of the reception, briefly welcomed the attendees and introduced the first speaker, Mr. Gordon McKenzie, Vice-President for Business Development and Sales at CCC. Mr. Mckenzie, spoke to the commitment that CCC is making to grow its presence in the region. Of particular note was the creation of a new CCC Regional Manager position, located in Abu Dhabi, for Business Development and Sales in the Gulf States. The position is currently filled by Colonel (retired) Michael P. Cessford, OMM, MSM, CD, PhD.

Subsequently Mr. Caillo introduced Ms. Christyn Cianfarani, President of the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries (CADSI). Ms. Cianfarani thanked Canada’s Embassy to the UAE and CBC Abu Dhabi for organizing the event and their support, with a special mention of Mr. Caillo who has been a supporting pillar for their participation at IDEX. She also thanked the Canada Pavilion partners, CCC, Western Economic Diversification Canada, the networking event sponsors, and the Province of Ontario for their recruitment campaign to get companies to Abu Dhabi. “The support from each and every one of you is what makes our Canada Pavilion and our program a reality”, added Ms. Cianfarani as she emphasized the importance that the UAE places on building strong relationships with companies.

Mr. Caillo then introduced Mr. Gregory Zoughbi, CBC Board Member and Head of Sponsorship and Membership. Mr. Zoughbi thanked the event sponsors, which is why it was possible to host more than 200 participants; Mr. Zoughbi highlighted that the event sponsorship packages were sold out six (6) weeks before the event. He then invited the attendees to inquire about sponsorship opportunities for the CBC Maple Leaf Ball (MLB), which is scheduled for Thursday, 27 April 2017. Mr. Zoughbi also took the opportunity to announce yet another CBC sponsor and member benefit: “Tonight, and in partnership with the Commercial Team at the Embassy of Canada to the UAE, we announce the creation of the CBC Defense, Aerospace and Security Committee, which will meet every two months to discuss sectoral trends and issues”, Mr. Zoughbi said.

Mr. Zoughbi then introduced Mr. Stephane Villeneuve, Vice-President, Bombardier Specialized Aircraft and Mr. Kamel Srour, Sales Director – MEA, Central Asia & Turkey. Mr. Villeneuve thanked his team for their efforts at IDEX and he mentioned the achievements of Bombardier in various areas. Mr. Srour then presented a few images of Bombardier aircrafts, stating that “as the world’s leading manufacturer of both planes and trains, Bombardier has built an extensive and diverse portfolio of winning mobility solutions”. From category-defining business jets and commercial aircraft designed for the challenges of today, to sleek public transit trains, Bombardier’s presence in the UAE continues to grow. Bombardier Specialized Aircraft showcased its comprehensive range of aircraft platforms for special mission roles which fulfill the most rigorous requirements for a broad range of government and civilian agencies. These missions include aerial surveillance over land and sea, battlefield communications management, command and control, medical evacuation, flight inspection, meteorological measurement, fire-fighting, search and rescue, maritime patrol, government transport and various other special aircraft applications. A brief 2-minute video of Bombardier specialized Aircraft followed.

Mr. James Wilson, Manager of International Programs at General Dynamics Mission Systems Canada, then took the stage. Mr. Wilson mentioned that he believed that key to successfully doing business in the UAE is presence and collaborating with others, which will allow one to leverage knowledge, experience, and capability to provide better solutions for our UAE customers. Mr. Wilson added: ”At General Dynamics, we built strong relationships with the Canadian industry, the Government of Canada and with the end customer; we have used these relationships to provide capabilities and solutions that bring together complex technologies that assist the militaries to complete their missions safely and effectively”. Through their joint venture in the UAE, Dynamics Mission Systems Middle East, the company is expanding its relationship with the leaders. “We work with our partners, Bin Hilal Enterprises and Universal Group, the UAE Government, and the End User to provide relevant and effective solutions specific to the UAE”. GDMS Middle East is also attracting Young UAE Nationals to share with them the knowledge and expertise and provide them with relevant skills to help them along their career path. A short video followed, illustrating the versatility and cutting edge technology of General Dynamics Mission Systems Middle East.

Mr. Zoughbi then highlighted CAE Inc., Gold sponsor of the event. He mentioned the role that CAE plays on the international scene, including the UAE, as a renowned Canadian manufacturer of simulation technologies and training provider. A two (2) minute video on CAE Inc.’s capabilities then played, which showcased their training equipment, Commercial aviation training, Business Aviation training, and advanced technology in the field of healthcare.
Mr. Zoughbi then introduced General (retired) Rick Hillier, OC, CMM, ONL, MSC, CD, former Canadian Chief of Defence Staff and current corporate advisor for PAL Aerospace. General Hillier spoke about his role with PAL Aerospace’s office in the UAE as chairman of the board and senior advisor. He added that year 2016 marked the 10th anniversary of PAL in the UAE. He also mentioned the growing potential for the PAL Group of companies in the region and worldwide, and he commended the dedication of PAL Aersopace’s staff, innovation, dependable strategic planning and diversity, which will lead to the successful future of PAL. At the end of the speech, a video was shown, showcasing PAL as a company highly recognized by governments and militaries for its reliability rates and its track record.

Mr. Jack Matar, CBC Chairman, then gave the concluding remarks and thanked the attendees. He also encouraged the participants to attend the CBC Maple Leaf Ball (MLB) on Thursday, 27 April 2017. He also emphasized the importance for the community to participate in CBC’s activities and highlighted the great value CBC brings to its sponsors and members.
Networking resumed in a relaxed ambience until past 8:30 pm.