Arab British Chamber of Commerce
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Arab British Chamber of Commerce

Arab British Chamber of Commerce (? ? ? ?) established 6 February 1975, is an international trade organisation located in the prestigious Mayfair area of London, beside Grosvenor Square. The Chamber has been encouraging, promoting and facilitating Arab-British trade and economic co-operation since 1975. It works in close co-operation with Arab businesses and official bodies, particularly the League of Arab States and its specialised agencies, Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Arab diplomatic missions in London, UKTI, British Chambers of Commerce, and chambers of commerce in the Arab world. The Chamber's regular events include business networking, conferences, seminars and workshops aimed at the business community involved in the Arab-British trade relations. The Chamber's distinguishing motto: 'Friendship through Trade' has earned it a well established name within the Arab and British business sectors over the past four decades.

History

The decision to create Joint Chambers of Commerce was taken by the Economic Council of the League of Arab States in the early Seventies. This led to the decision by the Arab governments to set up the Arab British Chamber of Commerce under the decree of the League of Arab States no. K1175/D52/G who mandated it to: 'promote, encourage and facilitate bilateral trade'. On 10 January 1975, the Department of Trade granted the Chamber a licence. The Chamber was officially founded by incorporation and registration on 6 February 1975, as a non-political and non-profit making company and the first board of directors was elected.

The first priority, following the appointment of the first Secretary General and Chief Executive, late Abdul Karim Al Mudaris, was to create a nucleus of staff capable of establishing a firm presence in the business world, setting out to attract membership by providing basic services to members and creating a physical capacity to handle the certification and documentation which is an essential part of the export procedure for the shipment of goods from the United Kingdom to Arab states. In this stage it was vital for the Chamber to establish sound working relations with British Chambers of Commerce and set up a system capable of handling the vast flow of export documentation.

In October 1976 the Chamber started issuing Certificates of Origin for goods exported from Britain to Arab countries, after securing a licence from the Department of Trade and Industry in the UK to issue these certificates. The form of the Certificates of Origin was designed in consultation with the DTI and in conformity with international standardised rules. The Chamber's Certificate of Origin was recognised by all Arab countries as a document which has to be completed and certified by the Chamber and legalised by Arab consular authorities accredited in the UK.

From the day the first board of directors was elected, the Chamber had aspirations to become a body of influence, providing a unique bridge between Britain and the Arab world participating in wide range of activities associated with economic exchange and the positive promotion of cultural understanding. The result has been a rapid but controlled expansion, matched by adjustments to the policy-making on a limited scale, becoming a significant organisation engaged in a wide range of activities and playing a full part in the business life of the United Kingdom and Arab countries.

By 1981 the Chamber published its first Annual Directory, printed in Arabic and English, containing a detailed economic survey of each Arab state and of the United Kingdom. The directory provided a full membership list in addition to the section with commercial information.

A milestone in the life of the Chamber was its move to new premises in 1984, where all the departments were brought under one roof at 6 Belgrave Square. The building was initially inaugurated on 18 September 1985 by Britain's then Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Geoffrey Howe, and Arab Ambassadors in London. The presence of the Foreign Secretary was a recognition of the importance of Arab-British trade and the role of the Chamber.

In 1980 the Chairmanship passed to Sir Richard Beaumont and the Board was composed of 40 leading Arab and British businessmen, officials, bankers and industrialists. A sound departmental structure was in place, reflecting the various functions of the Chamber, administered by highly qualified Arab and British staff. The Chamber was starting to establish itself in the mind of the European Community with its considerable importance in the area of Arab-British trade policy.

Also in the 1980s, as part of its development programme, the Chamber sought to act as a conduit for information on science and technology forming an extensive base of knowledge and practice in Britain and the Arab governmental and private sectors. To this end, the Chamber launched the publication of a specialised magazine, the "Science & Technology Now". This development allowed wider contacts to be made in the university sector in the UK as a whole, and with British industry which itself was seen as a source of technological development.

In addition, Saturday classes were run by the Chamber in order to teach Arabic to children of the Arab community in London. Similarly, the Chamber founded a Charitable Foundation financed by the percentage of the Chamber's surplus, the main objective of which was to provide scholarship for Arab students on post-graduate courses in science and technology at British universities. These educational aspects of the Chamber's work were widely welcomed by Arab and British governments, businesses and the world of academia.

With the growing importance of the European Union as a single market and single organisation in terms of trade negotiations in the 90's, the Chamber sought to bring this European dimension into its activities by making effort to explain the complexities and policies of the European Union to the Arab audience. During this time, Britain and other European countries gained substantial benefits from the politics of economic expansion pursued by Arab countries which created opportunities for European technology and skills.

For more than 40 years the Chamber has served the business community by developing a wide range of services that continue to grow and adapt to the rapidly changing global business environment. In 2004, the Chamber moved from its headquarters in 6 Belgrave Square to the current site in 43 Upper Grosvenor Street in the prestigious Mayfair area of London.

Secretary General

Mr Bandar Ali Reda joined the Arab British Chamber of Commerce, on 1st March 2019, assuming the role of Secretary General and CEO, becoming the fourth person to occupy this position of leadership at the Chamber. As leader of the Chamber, Mr Reda contributes his expertise along with his combined experience as a diplomat and extensive hands-on experience in the private sector to help bring the Chamber to a new level of development. Mr Reda has a distinguished professional career of more than a decade in banking and corporate industry serving at SABB HSBC Saudi Arabia, prior to taking up senior positions in the diplomatic service of his country, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as the Commercial Attaché in the UK & Europe, based in London, and before that in Italy and the Saudi delegation to BIE in Paris. Mr Reda holds a BA in Economics and Business Administration from Orlando, USA. He has served as an Executive Member of the Saudi-Italian Business Council, Council of Saudi Chambers; a Member of the Business Youth Committee, Jeddah Chamber of Commerce; a Member of the Saudi Economy Association; and a Member of the Saudi Arabian legal accountants. Mr Reda's undoubted experience and abilities are clearly demonstrated in his extensive career of service in both the public and private sectors. The welcome appointment of Mr Reda is already making a vital contribution towards the improvement of the Chamber's activities and enhancing its influence as the leading strategic business services organisation in the UK as it works to strengthen Arab-British bilateral trade, investment and improved relations more generally.

ABCC partners

The Arab British Chamber of Commerce works in close co-operation with:


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