Minister Ed Fast Announces Canadian Members of Canada-United Arab Emirates Business Council

Minister Fast and U.A.E.’s Minister of Economy Al Mansouri launch inaugural meeting of business council to deepen trade and investment ties, create new jobs and new opportunities in both countries

October 1, 2013 - The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade, and His Excellency Sultan Bin Saaeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy of the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.), today launched the Canada-United Arab Emirates Business Council (CUBC) and welcomed its first meeting in Montréal. At the launch, Minister Fast also announced the Canadian members of the council. They are Gordon Nixon, Murad Al-Katib, David Barette, Jeffrey Blidner, Michael Smith, Jeffrey Steiner and Ken Seitz.

“Our government’s top priority is the economy and creating jobs, growth and long-term prosperity for hard-working Canadians and their families,” said Minister Fast. “As our government continues to open new markets for our exporters, dynamic markets such as the U.A.E. offer exciting opportunities for our world-class businesses, and the Canadian members of this council have the knowledge and experience to help us strengthen this key trade relationship.”

The business council forms a core pillar of the Canada-U.A.E. Strategic Agenda announced by Canada and the U.A.E. in April 2013 to strengthen and re-energize the Canada-U.A.E. relationship and to help create economic opportunity for both countries.

“In order to maximize the true potential of the Canada-U.A.E. economic relationship, governments and businesses must work together,” said Minister Fast. “That’s why both governments look forward to hearing from and working with the CUBC on a wide range of matters as we find practical ways to move the partnership forward.”

Gordon Nixon, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Royal Bank of Canada, and His Excellency Abdulla Saif Ali Slayem Al Nuaimi,  Director General of Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority and Vice-Chairman of the Abu Dhabi National Energy Company PJSC (TAQA), were named co-chairs of the CUBC in April.

“As a high-growth market in a strategically important region, the U.A.E. holds numerous opportunities for Canadian businesses,” said Mr. Nixon. “The CUBC will be an important vehicle through which we can identify these opportunities and facilitate greater trade and investment between Canadian businesses and those in the U.A.E., which will benefit people in both countries and will help us deepen the Canada-U.A.E. commercial partnership.”

“We believe that this is an excellent forum for our respective countries and businesses to continue collaborating with one another and expanding this strategic partnership,” said Mr. Al Nuaimi. “We share a deep history of trade and commerce. We would like to build on this.”

As a leading member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), whose members are a priority market for Canada, the U.A.E. is a gateway for Canadian exports to other GCC-member markets and beyond, including those in North Africa and South Asia.

The U.A.E. offers significant opportunities for Canadian exporters and investors in agriculture, sustainable technologies, education, information and communications technologies, infrastructure and life sciences sectors. In 2012, merchandise trade between Canada and the U.A.E. amounted to $1.7 billion.

A backgrounder and biographical notes on the CUBC’s Canadian participants follow.

Photo (left to right): His Excellency Abdulla Saif Ali Slayem Al Nuaimi, co-chair of the CUBC; His Excellency Bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy of the U.A.E.; Minister Fast; and Gordon Nixon, co-chair of the CUBC.

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Office of the Honourable Ed Fast
Minister of International Trade

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Biographical Notes

Gordon Nixon, Co-chair, Canada-U.A.E. Business Council, and President and Chief Executive Officer, Royal Bank of Canada, also serves as a director of Royal Bank of Canada and chairman of its group executive.

Murad Al-Katib, President and Chief Executive Officer, Alliance Grain Traders Inc., provides the guiding vision for Alliance Grain Traders Inc. and also serves on its board of directors.

David Barette, Senior Director, CAE Inc., has been with CAE Inc. since 1985. His career there has focused primarily on sales, business development and management.

Jeffrey Blidner, Senior Managing Partner, Brookfield Asset Management Inc., is responsible for Brookfield’s strategic planning, as well as its transaction execution. He is also the chief executive officer of Brookfield’s Private Funds Group, chairman of Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners, a director of Rouse Properties, Inc. and a director of Brookfield Infrastructure Partners.

Michael Smith, Senior Vice President, International Operations, EllisDon Corporation, works with international and industry leaders to develop planning and procurement options and practical solutions for design and construction programs globally. In addition to his leadership role in EllisDon’s international business, he also leads marketing and business development, bringing his client-focused, inclusive management style to all areas for which he is responsible.

Jeffrey Steiner, Chief Executive Officer, New Franchise Media Inc., is a Toronto-based lawyer and senior business executive involved in real estate, the film and television industry and early-stage angel investment. New Franchise Media Inc. was formed to adapt the bestselling novels of British author Jeffrey Archer into international film and television productions and commercialize them. Mr. Steiner is a member of the board of Export Development Canada, serving on its business development and risk management committees.

Ken Seitz, Senior Vice-President, Marketing and Business Development, and Chief Commercial Officer, Cameco, worked as a mechanical engineer with Cameco at the McArthur River and Cigar Lake projects prior to moving to the oil and gas industry in 2000. During his time working in the oil and gas sector in Calgary, he held management and business roles until he re-joined Cameco in 2004. Before he was appointed as senior-vice president, Mr. Seitz held a number of positions of significant responsibility with the company, including as vice-president of corporate development and power generation and vice-president of market strategy and administration.

Backgrounder - Canada-U.A.E. Business Success Stories

Bombardier Transport announced in November 2012 a contract with construction contractor Al Jaber L.E.G.T. Engineering and Contracting LCC to design and build an INNOVIA APM 300 automated people mover system for the Dubai International Airport. The contract is valued at approximately US$107 million.

CAE announced in July 2013 that Etihad Airways, the national airline of the U.A.E., has purchased seven state-of-the-art full flight simulators (FFS) that will be based at the airline’s world-class training academy in Abu Dhabi. The deal, which is worth more than US$200 million at list prices, includes update services for the FFS and a 10-year exclusive product and service agreement with Etihad.

Cirque Eloize was selected by Dubai World Trade Centre to mount its show this year from August 15-24 to coincide with the Eid-ul-Fitr holiday season.

Electrovaya announced in September that it had made its first major sale of the world’s leading lithium ion battery in the U.A.E.  The purchase order is valued at approximately US$1 million. 

The International Language Institute, in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Education Council, organized a visit to Canada of 75 Emirati high school students and seven Emirati chaperones from August 12 to September 7, 2013, as part of their summer abroad program. The program features English language instruction as well as the opportunity to experience Canadian life and culture. 

Provincial Aerospace Limited announced in February 2013 a deal with the U.A.E. armed forces worth more than US$50 million to supply satellite communication systems.