Driving commercial and political engagement between Asia, the Middle East and Europe

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  • 63 New Cavendish Street
  • London W1G 7LP
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  • Driving commercial and political engagement between Asia, the Middle East and Europe


    The Middle East’s Pivot to Asia Conference

    Since the turn of the century, the Middle East’s trade focus has increasingly shifted towards Asia. Initially driven by the energy needs of Asian economies, the trade relationship has since developed beyond oil and gas exports. Asian markets are emerging as key sources of investment for Middle East economies seeking to diversify. The Middle East is also a key region in China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which promises to transform the global trade landscape.

    View research by Asia House on the Middle East’s Asian Pivot 

    This Asia House conference will explore the forces driving the Middle East’s pivot to Asia and the opportunities that will arise as these trade relationships evolve.

    Held as part of the Asia House Middle East Programme, the conference will bring together leading decision makers to discuss and debate the future of trade in the Middle East, with a specific focus on the Gulf’s global importance and growing relationship with Asia.

    Senior figures from business and policy will explore key trends in the region, including trade relations, tech hubs in the Gulf, SME/entrepreneurship and developments across the energy sector – both renewable and conventional.


    Date: 27 June 2019

    Time: 8:30 – 13:00

    Venue: Asia House 63 New Cavendish Street, London W1G7LP


    The conference is free to attend, but registration is essential. Please register your interest by contacting Cordelia Begbie, Middle East Programme Manager: cordelia.begbie@asiahouse.co.uk.




    Jinny Yan, Managing Director, Chief China Economist, ICBC Standard Bank

    Jinny joined ICBC Standard Bank in early 2016 as Chief China Economist, and leads the China markets strategy and research team. Her focus is to deliver China macroeconomic and market insights to internal and external stakeholders. Jinny’s team launched the Belt and Road Economic Indices, which offers unique insight into China’s increasing connectivity with emerging economies.

    Prior to joining ICBCS, Jinny was a London-based Senior Economist at Standard Chartered Bank. She covered key China-Europe macro topics with a focus on Renminbi internationalisation. Her previous economist roles include covering China based in Shanghai, Europe, and supporting the Chief Economist. Heading up the European RMB Solutions team, Jinny chaired the Education and Marketing stream of the City of London’s Renminbi initiative. Widely recognised as a China and Renminbi expert in London, she makes frequent appearances in media and at high-level conferences.

    Jinny studied Economics (BA Hons) at the University of Durham. Later in her career, she gained her Masters of Development Studies (MSc.) from the London School of Economics.


    Takeshi Hajiro, Executive Vice President, Mitsui & Co. Europe 

    Takeshi was appointed as the Executive Vice President and Executive Coordinator of Mitsui & Co. Europe at London Headquarters in in October 2018, where he has responsibility for government and external affairs. He joined Mitsui & Co., Ltd in 1980 after graduating from the University of London (Bedford College) where he read Geography and Economics. He was assigned to Natural Gas Division of Energy Business Unit where he spent the majority of his working life. Takeshi was involved in establishing many Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) projects Mitsui is participating in as a shareholder, where he accumulated experience in international negotiation, overseas investment and managing mega-scale energy projects.

    After 2006, he was heavily involved in the HR operation of the Energy Business Unit and was elected to be the president of Mitsui HR Development Institute during 2013-2017. In April 2017, he was appointed as the lead staffer for ABAC (APEC Business Advisory Committee) assisting Mitsui management.


    Dr. Gıyas GökkentChief Economist, MENA, J.P. Morgan

    Dr. Gıyas Gökkent’s experience spans insurance, academia, asset management and banking. Before joining J.P. Morgan, he was Senior Economist at the Middle East & Africa Department at the Institute of International Finance between 2014 and 2017. Prior to this, he worked as Group Chief Economist at National Bank of Abu Dhabi and acted as co-head of Asset Management Group between 2006 and 2013. From 1999 to 2002, he worked at the Strategic Planning Department of Garanti Bank, Turkey as an Economist where he served as a member of an advisory body for Volkswagen-Dogus Finance. During this period, he also served as a member of the banking sector advisory body at the Association of Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen. He has held a number of academic positions in the US, Turkey, and the UAE and served as the acting head of the finance department at Abu Dhabi University. He is a member of the Advisory Board of the Abu Dhabi University College of Business Administration. He authored the annual MENA Asset Management Survey between 2010 and 2013 and has published numerous academic articles.


    Johnny Ojeil, Director, Arup

    Johnny Ojeil is a Director of Arup and has extensive experience over 32 years in the infrastructure and transport planning field of work. Johnny is of British Lebanese background and has been involved in projects around the world and specifically in the Middle East and in Asia 9Hong Kong). Johnny has contributed to masterplan projects as a transport expert in Dubai and Abu Dhabi and most recently is involved in a new city plan in Oman.  Other projects include providing traffic and transport advice for private sector developments in the UAE including multi land use developments and he was the project director, transport planning, for the redevelopment of the central area/ waterfront area of Beirut for Solidere. In Hong Kong Johnny has worked on a multi modal project as part of the redevelopment of East Kowloon in Hong Kong. Wider afield Johnny has led EU multi country projects that included Motorways of Seas and included key ports from Morocco to Lebanon.  He is also involved in projects in the transport sector for EBRD and EIB. Johnny is an ex Chair of CIHT – Midlands Region and is a Senior visiting lecturer in transport planning at the school of civil engineering, University of Birmingham. He is an elected Council Member of the Association of European Transport.


    Louis Lebbos, Founding Partner, AstroLabs

    Louis is Founding Partner of AstroLabs, a tech co-working community and learning academy for topics in digital. AstroLabs Academy graduated thousands of alumni across the region and delivers custom-made curricula for corporate clients and incubators/accelerators. AstroLabs communities helps international companies with a soft landing in the UAE and Saudi Arabia with a 100 per cent fully foreign owned entities. It currently hosts more than 120 companies in its spaces in Dubai and Riyadh.

    Before starting AstroLabs, Louis co-founded Namshi, an e-commerce portal for the Middle East, where he led the marketing, onsite experience, and human resources teams. Before Namshi, Louis was a consultant at the Dubai office of McKinsey & Company. Previously, Louis was part of the general management development program at a US Fortune 200 multinational. Louis studied for his electrical engineering degree at North Carolina State University and received his MBA from Harvard Business School.


    Visar Sala, Managing Director, Accenture Strategy lead for Middle East and Turkey

    Visar Sala is managing director and lead for the Middle East and Turkey within Accenture Strategy. In this role, he advises companies and governments on business strategy, digital strategy and customer strategy, as well as on the development of new operating models, cost management transformations, large-scale business transformations and organisational change.

    Visar has more than 20 years of experience in guiding corporate leaders in 20+ countries through the complexities of defining and implementing transformation programs. In addition to his transformation expertise, Visar has extensive experience in strategy and operating model development and post-merger integration. Before he joined Accenture in 2015, he worked for Bain & Company.


    Alex Perez-FrageroInternational Markets Director, What3Words

    Alex started his career at Credit Suisse before moving to the technology sector, joining Jumia Group (recently IPOed) to head up Business Development.

    At what3words he is responsible for growth across their international markets in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. He also helps e-commerce and logistics businesses become more efficient and improve their customer service.


    Emma Parsons, Regional Director UK & Ireland, Bahrain Economic Development Board

    The Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) is an investment promotion agency with overall responsibility for attracting investment into the Kingdom and supporting initiatives that enhance the investment climate.

    As part of her role, Emma is charged with supporting Bahrain’s financial industries through international outreach to attract new inward investment opportunities to the Kingdom. The Financial Services team at EDB also work closely with key stakeholders such as the Central Bank of Bahrain to create a business and innovation friendly environment for indigenous businesses and inward investors alike, from startups to corporates. This work has led to the introduction of Bahrain’s Regulatory Sandbox, Bahrain’s Crowdfunding Regulations along with Bahrain Fintech Bay, the largest fintech hub in the Middle East and North Africa. In addition to Financial Services Emma focuses on Manufacturing and Education projects for EDB.


    Mike MullerChief Business Development Officer, Vitol

    Mike Muller has been the Chief Business Development Officer for Vitol since 2018. He formerly worked with Shell for 29 years, where he was the VP of Global Crude Oil Trading & Supply with various assignments in Melbourne, London and Singapore. He graduated from Cambridge University in 1988.



    Jamie Balmer, Strategy & Implementation Director, Wood Plc

    Jamie Balmer is Strategy & Implementation Director for Wood Plc, based in the United Arab Emirates. In this role, Jamie supports and advises senior management in the development of strategic initiatives across the Eastern Hemisphere. An expert in Middle Eastern and Asian energy markets, Jamie has worked for over 15 years in strategic and analytical roles in energy consultancy and finance in the UK, Middle East, Asia and Australia. Most recently, he was a Consulting Principal with IHS Markit in the Dubai upstream practice, where he supported regional NOCs and international oil companies across a variety of strategic and market advisory assignments. Jamie holds an MA(Hons) in Management and Economics from the University of St Andrews, an MSc in Operational Research from Strathclyde University, and is nearing completion of an MBA from Warwick Business School.


    Rob McNabb, Partner, Construction and Engineering (Renewable Energies), Eversheds Sutherland

    Rob is a partner in the construction and engineering team at Eversheds Sutherland, specialising in international clean energy projects. Rob has advised on over 30GW of projects including solar, wind, clean thermal and hydro projects across Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Rob has a particular on advising on project finance transactions deploying a technology in a new country for the first time having advised on the first wind farm in Africa and the first solar farm in the Middle East.



    08:30 – 09:00 Registration

    09:00 – 09:05 Welcome from Asia House

    • Michael Lawrence, Chief Executive, Asia House

    09:05 – 09:15 Opening Speech

    • Lord Green, Chairman of Asia House

    09:15 – 10:15 ‘The Middle East Pivot to Asia’

    • Jinny Yan, Managing Director and Chief China Economist, ICBC
    • Takeshi Hajiro, Executive Vice President, Mitsui & Co. Europe
    • Dr Giyas Gokkent, Chief MENA Economist, J.P. Morgan
    • Johnny Ojeil, Director, Arup

    10:15 – 10:45 Refreshment Break

    10:45 – 11:30 ‘The Middle East’s place in the Global Tech Ecosystem’

    • Louis Lebbos, Founding Partner, AstroLabs
    • Alex Perez-Fragero, International Markets Director, What3Words
    • Emma Parsons, Regional Director UK & Ireland, Bahrain Economic Development Board
    • Visar Sala, Managing Director, Accenture Strategy lead for Middle East and Turkey

    11:30 – 12:00 ‘Changing Energy Demands and the Rise of Renewables’

    • Mike Muller, Chief Business Development Officer, Vitol
    • Jamie Balmer, Strategy & Implementation Director, Wood Plc
    • Rob McNabb, Partner, Construction and Engineering (Renewable Energies), Eversheds Sutherland

    12:00 Closing Remarks and Networking Lunch


    The conference is free to attend, but registration is essential. Please register your interest by contacting Cordelia Begbie, Middle East Programme Manager: cordelia.begbie@asiahouse.co.uk

    • Event Details
    • Date
      27 June 2019
    • Start Time
    • End Time
    • Location
    • Asia House
      New Cavendish Street