Offering opening remarks at the first ever ASEAN (The Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Global Business Forum (GBF) on Wednesday, Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director General of Expo 2020 Dubai, said ASEAN countries would reshape the future of global trade and connectivity.

 “The future is Asia”, Her Excellency told GBF ASEAN, organised by Dubai Chamber in partnership with Expo 2020, under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

 “And in this room today, and across our site for the entire six months of this unprecedented global event, Asia is at Expo 2020 Dubai. Each of the 10 members of ASEAN, as well as the organisation itself, is welcoming visitors and investors from around the world, to its dedicated and purpose-built pavilion [at Expo 2020] … telling a story of national and regional rebirth… of inclusive and extraordinary economic opportunity and connectivity.”

Her Excellency noted the UAE’s investments in the countries of ASEAN have topped USD 10 billion since January 2016, a reflection of trust and confidence, and driving investment across smart city development and knowledge transfer, healthcare delivery, tech manufacturing, food and beverage, retail, e-commerce, ports and logistics, fintech, and hydrocarbon storage.

“In the United Arab Emirates you will find an established and unmatched gateway between continents, a friend and a facilitator as Asia seeks to realise its immense and undoubted potential,” Her Excellency added.

Held under the theme ‘The New Frontiers’, the two-day forum at Dubai Exhibition Centre, Expo 2020 is exploring the wealth of bilateral business opportunities that exist between Dubai and the 10-member ASEAN region, as the world progressively emerges from the global pandemic.

Key issues include the raft of technology opportunities in ASEAN countries, noting the region’s digital economy is set to exceed USD 100 billion for the first time. Opportunities arising from pledges made by leaders of the ASEAN region at the 37th ASEAN Summit held in November 2020 to rebuild their countries with a focus on resilience, sustainability and regional cooperation, will also feature.

High-level delegates to the forum include His Excellency Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications (UAE); His Excellency Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade; His Excellency Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, Chairman, Dubai Chambers; His Excellency Hamad Buamim, President and CEO, Dubai Chamber; His Excellency Nguyen Hong Dien, Minister of Industry and Trade of Vietnam and Professor Romano Prodi, President, Italy-ASEAN Association.

A full agenda of proceedings across the two-day forum can be found here.