UAE, UAE, ABU DHABI - Economy
Chairman, Canadian Business Council (CBC)
Gregory Zoughbi is the Chairman of the Canadian Business Council (CBC) Abu Dhabi and is senior principal of business development for Harris Corporation. Throughout his career, he held positions of increased responsibility in strategy and business development, project management, consulting, and engineering of mission-critical systems with organizations including UAE Center of Excellence, CAE Inc., General Dynamics, and BMW. A published author with multiple awards and professional certifications, he has an MBA from Alliance Manchester Business School, a master’s in electrical engineering from Carleton University, and a bachelor’s in computer engineering from McGill University.
How does CBC promote trade, investment, and commerce between the UAE and Canada?
CBC promotes the bilateral economic relationship by serving as a hub for the private sector to network, grow relationships, discuss business trends, and identify opportunities. Our key mechanisms are events, marketing, roundtables, and our Community of Interest (COI) programs. CBC events include informative business seminars, ambassador’s receptions for Canadian business delegations, community galas, and social events. Recently, member organizations have turned to CBC for business advice, advocacy, digital marketing across borders, and access to exclusive roundtables with visiting Canadian organizations. For example, we hosted a roundtable for a leading Canadian organization to meet with UAE-based experts to discuss healthcare, youth, and education. We have also significantly expanded our marketing outreach through a combination of an improved online presence, social media, newsletters, email lists, and strategic partnerships. For example, we partnered with the organizers of leading conferences such as Global Aerospace Summit, Global Space Congress, and Abu Dhabi International Exhibition & Conference (ADIPEC). Such exposure has benefited our corporate members, which include Bank of Montreal (BMO), SNC-Lavalin, Bombardier, PAL Aerospace, and Air Canada, and UAE brands with Canadian interests such as UE Medical, Al Amal Business Services, Apparel Group, Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX), and Concorde Corodex. Our business connections and expertise, coupled with our reputation in the UAE and Canada, have enabled us to successfully use our mechanisms to promote bilateral trade and investment.
Where do you see the greatest potential for increased trade?
The greatest potential is in technologies and innovations where Canada has long been a world-class leader, given the UAE’s continued vision to develop and adopt innovations and digital trends. Potential sectors include aerospace, energy, healthcare, clean technology, IT, and AI. For example, the WEF and UAE have recognized AI as fundamental to the fourth industrial revolution. We are seeing many sectors eager to explore AI and its benefits. Canada has an AI legacy, with world-leading hubs in Montreal and Toronto that have attracted investment from companies like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft. Other significant areas include healthcare, as evident through UEMedical’s partnership with Canada’s SickKids Hospital; energy, as evident through the province of Alberta’s decision to expand its trade presence in the UAE and Mubadala’s multi-billion dollar investments in the Canadian energy sector; and space, as evident through the MoU signed between the Canadian space agency and the UAE space agency. This increased bilateral relationship and trade growth is a sign of innovative Canadian technologies and capabilities and the Canadian private sector’s confidence in the UAE’s legal system, business practices, and stability. We project trade to further increase given such opportunities, common sectors of interest, and business environment.
How will the shared values between Canada and the UAE serve to deepen the bilateral relationship?
There are evident similarities between the UAE and Canada’s values, for example on tolerance and women’s empowerment. Canada has long been globally recognized as a leader in tolerance, with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom at its core. This is evident through examples such as its progressive immigration system, acceptance of refugees, protection of indigenous rights, and the maintenance of a gender-balanced cabinet. Tolerance is also one of the UAE’s core values, with its Ministry of Tolerance and National Tolerance Program. With about 200 nationalities that are resident here, the UAE made 2019 its Year of Tolerance with key milestones such as the Papal visit and mandating that 50% of Federal National Council (FNC) members be women. The implications of such shared values are strengthened people-to-people relationships. This makes it more attractive for Canadians to feel accepted and call the UAE home, move their families here, and make long-term investments such as buying property. Similarly, Emiratis are able to integrate within Canadian society to study, train, and work. They then bring back knowledge and contribute to enriching the UAE and developing its knowledge-based society.