I am excited to be taking the helm as CEO of the Middle East Association at a time when prospects for business in the Middle East and North Africa have never been better. Despite the political uncertainties which continue to beset the area, UK exports to the region are buoyant, rising by over 38% in 2013 to £22.3 billion. As a longstanding member of the Association myself, I am a firm believer in the vital role the MEA plays in helping British companies to capitalise on the opportunities and promoting active business contact between the UK and the MENA countries. That belief has been strengthened in the few short weeks since I have had my feet under the desk, when I have been struck by the groundswell of support and goodwill from our members and contacts, both in the UK and in the region. At the time of writing we are preparing to move from our offices in Bury House to smaller and more modern premises nearby in St James’s, marking a new chapter in our history and reflecting the move towards a streamlined and modernised organisation that can keep up with the challenges of a fast changing world.
Looking forward, I am keen for the MEA to be responsive to the needs of its members and adopt a personal approach. A key focus will be the broadening of our reach throughout the UK, to assist those SMEs who can offer the skills and expertise that are in demand in the region – so look out for us somewhere near you! We will be holding a conference at the International Festival for Business in Liverpool on 16th June, and our annual Opportunity Arabia conference will be held in Edinburgh this October following our success in Manchester last year. We will be intensifying our contacts with the MENA countries as well as their embassies and key institutions in the UK, and are looking to have an increased involvement with inward missions. While we will continue to pursue an ambitious trade mission programme, I am particularly keen to encourage a stronger UK presence at key trade fairs in the MENA region. And we have an exciting programme of events lined up following the Ramadhan / summer break. The MEA remains one of the leading resources to help companies harness the opportunities and mitigate the risks in the fast changing MENA markets. If you are not currently a member, now is a good time to consider joining! Do take a look through our website or get in touch to see what we have to offer, and I would welcome your thoughts on how we can best help you to develop your MENA business.
Peter Meyer, CEO