Houston Trade Mission round-table in GCC

Mayor Parker discusses economic development and future collaboration with media

Abu Dhabi, 20 November 2012: A media round-table featuring Annise Parker, the Honourable Mayor of the City of Houston, and Mario C. Diaz, Director of Aviation - Houston Airport System, took place in Abu Dhabi on 11 November on the side lines of an eight day US Trade Mission to the Middle East, sponsored and organized by the Bilateral US-Arab Chamber of Commerce. The discussion saw Mayor Parker and Mr Diaz share their goals and expectations for the mission with select representatives of the local media community.

The media round-table was also attended by Jack Christie, City Councilmember, Andy Icken, Chief Development Officer for the City of Houston, Aida Araissi, Executive Director of the Bilateral US-Arab Chamber of Commerce, Jorge Franz, Vice President of International Sales and Tourism at the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau and Genaro Pena, Vice President of International Trade and Investment for the Greater Houston Partnership (Houston's Chamber of Commerce).

Speaking during the round-table Mayor Parker commented, "Houston has strong ties to the region not just because of the strength of the oil and gas industry in Houston but also due to its long standing sister city association with Abu Dhabi. Through this visit we wish to both enhance our existing business relationships as well as to discuss future business expansion and increased cooperation between Houston and the UAE. We are also looking to provide opportunities for new partnerships with public and private organisations in the Emirates and greater Middle East."

Led by Mayor Parker, the 38-strong delegation spent three days in the Emirates meeting with a number of major companies, including Emirates Airlines, Mubadala, Masdar, and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc), with the aim of launching joint ventures in oil and gas, renewable energy, medical and nanotechnologies, aviation, and aerospace industries. Mayor Parker remarked that the visit to Abu Dhabi was of particular importance in view of the sister city association between Houston and Abu Dhabi, which has, amongst other areas of mutual cooperation and progress, led to a remarkable growth in the Emirati presence at the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC), the world's foremost event for the development of offshore resources in the fields of drilling, exploration, production, and environmental protection held annually in Houston. She also commented that to further promote mutually beneficial bi-lateral cooperation they are currently working to establish a Consulate General of the UAE in Houston.

In addition, Mr. Diaz commented that the mission was looking to assure partner airlines in the region like Emirates Airlines of Houston's continued commitment to keeping the flights full and profitable. The delegation also made its way to Saudi Arabia, visiting Saudi Aramco, the American Business Council and US Consulate in Saudi Arabia, and the Asharqia Chamber of Commerce amongst others.

Commenting on the overall goals of the trade mission, Mayor Parked said, "Our visit as a delegation to the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia is because their roles as regional energy leaders, long known to the rest of the world for their bountiful oil and gas resources, much like Houston. Yet these countries have defied and reconfigured the accepted expectations for petro-economies by investing heavily in major infrastructure projects, scientific and cultural undertakings, and providing an array of business incentives which have brought some of the world's largest corporations to their business community. As in Houston, while energy is still king, the economies of these countries are diversifying into value-added sectors like health care, logistics/transportation, education and engineering which are also of great concern to us."

The Bilateral US-Arab Chamber of Commerce is an exclusive membership-based network of international business leadership that establishes strategic connections between the United States and Middle East/North Africa (MENA) to foster economic growth, educational advancement and cultural understanding. Founded in 1997 by Aida Araissi, the Bilateral Chamber creates access, strategic options and positive results for its members by facilitating relationships with key decision-makers, helping to navigate through the complex field of international trade, and producing effective programming including trade missions, speaker's series, and educational exchange initiatives. Headquartered in Houston, Texas (USA), the not-for-profit Bilateral Chamber membership includes Fortune 500 companies, private sector enterprises, thought leaders, and academic institutions from a wide range of industry sectors across the US and MENA regions.

For more information, please contact;
Ali Yousef
SAHARA Communications

© Press Release 2012


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