High Tech Road Show delegates explore cooperation with State of Utah, U.S. tech leaders

U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce Signs MOU with Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority

The National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce wrapped up its High Tech Road Show (HTRS) visit to Las Vegas today before leaving for its next two destinations, Los Angeles and Silicon Valley. This year's HTRS has drawn more than 25 delegates from throughout the Arab world, including the largest tech delegation of Libyans ever to visit the United States. Nine Arab nations are participating in this year's Road Show, including Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates.

While most of the Las Vegas visit revolved around the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), there were a number of related events dedicated to promoting U.S.-Arab business.

Utah Leadership Delegation

A high-level delegation of 17 government and business leaders from the State of Utah traveled to Las Vegas this year to meet with High Tech Road Show delegates. The Governor's Office of Economic Development sent two senior officials -- Franz Kolb, Director for Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Europe, and David Bradford, Director of the IT/Software Development Cluster -- while the business delegation was led by David Clark, Senior Vice President for International Banking at Zions Bank, the oldest private sector financial institution in Utah.

Franz Kolb noted, "Meeting with the NUSACC High Tech Road Show delegates was very beneficial not only for myself, but also for the Utah businesses that were represented at the reception. We were very pleased with the networking opportunities with the distinguished group of business leaders, and there were many economic and cultural ties that were made and strengthened between Utah and our guests from the Middle East and North Africa."

NUSACC organized a business networking reception for delegates from Utah and the High Tech Road Show that was sponsored by ContentWatch, a Salt Lake City-based company dedicated to Internet protection. Russ Warner, CEO of ContentWatch, said, "We were very pleased to be a sponsor for the Focus on Utah reception at the High Tech Road Show. Many of the Arab delegates were very interested in our products, and we are confident that Internet protection solutions will be in growing demand as the MENA region expands its IT and infrastructure in the coming years. Thank you, NUSACC, for including us in this very important matchmaking event."

Cynthia Douglass, Business Development Manager and head of NUSACC's office in Salt Lake City, played an instrumental role in bringing the Utahans together with the Arab delegates. She noted, "Utah would be an excellent stop for the HTRS delegation in 2014 because of the diversified economy in the state, which is supported by education, health sciences, and high-tech industries. HTRS delegates would be able to experience Utah's exceptional innovation, as well as the state's cultural ties with the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). In short, Utah is very well positioned to be a strategic partner for the MENA region."

The State of Utah's key economic drivers are energy development, next generation IT and software products, life sciences, and aviation and aerospace. Entrepreneurship drives current and future development in Utah, where public and private support thrives in the form of the Technology Commercialization and Innovation Program, the Utah Science Technology and Research initiatives, the Utah Technology Council, and numerous funding programs and competitions for start-ups.

Inc. magazine has noted that "Utah has become the epicenter of the 'Inc. 500 Fastest-Growing Private Companies' in recent years," and Forbes has named Utah as the best state for business and careers the last two years running.

Utah has nearly 4,000 IT and software companies in the state, generating more than 45,000 jobs. In addition, Utah has much to offer its MENA partners outside of IT and software, particularly in January with the International Energy Summit, the Outdoor Retailer Show, and the Sundance Film Festival.

Kolb, from the Office of the Governor of Utah, concluded, "NUSACC has been an excellent partner to the State of Utah. They have provided many Utah companies with great business and networking opportunities with MENA-based partners. NUSACC has also shared its vast knowledge of business know-how in this fast-growing -- yet sometimes challenging -- region."

MOU Signed Between NUSACC and Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority

In the context of the International CES, the National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce (NUSACC) and the Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) designed to promote commercial cooperation between the United States and the United Arab Emirates.

"This agreement marks an important step forward for our two organizations," stated David Hamod, President & CEO of NUSACC. "Today's signing ceremony will help to lay groundwork for cooperative efforts in support of entrepreneurship, incubation, and mutual investment in technology." H.E. Dr. Juma Al Matrooshi, Executive Vice President at the Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority, noted, "We are proud to sign this first-of-its-kind MOU with NUSACC, and we look forward to working on many initiatives together."

The MOU acknowledges that business-focused entities like the Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority and NUSACC play a very important role in promoting innovation, free enterprise, economic growth, job creation, and a better quality of life. With this in mind, the two organizations will work jointly to:

-- Promote technology transfer and knowledge transfer intended to strengthen economic growth and create productive employment opportunities.

-- Work to foster entrepreneurship, with a special emphasis on sustaining small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

-- Arrange for visits by technology-focused business delegations.

-- Enhance the business environment between the two nations through workshops and seminars that provide expertise in best practices.

-- Weigh in on regulations that have an impact on innovation and technology development.

-- Serve as a pipeline between the UAE and the USA to identify business opportunities that may be of interest to the organizations' respective members and business communities.

The Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority is dedicated to promoting modern technology-based industries, thereby supporting the region's demand for business expansion. Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO) is a technology park and provides an integrated living and working community. DSO is designed as a high-tech ecosystem which offers businesses numerous advantages, including a state-of-the-art infrastructure, in-house business services, and strong commercial support -- such as technology investment incentives for large enterprises, entrepreneurial support, an incubation center, and venture capital funding.

Visit to Las Vegas Water Reclamation Facility

At the invitation of GE, a market leader in water technologies, NUSACC led a high-level group of HTRS delegates to the City of North Las Vegas Water Reclamation Facility (WRF) to learn more about this highly sophisticated project, a state-of-the-art facility that uses submerged membrane bioreactor technology to produce extremely clear reclaimable water.

The visit to the WRF was organized by Amin Salam, Vice President for Business Development at NUSACC. He noted, "Our Chamber was very pleased to put together this site visit, just one example of NUSACC bringing leading U.S. companies together with stakeholders throughout the Arab world."

Construction of the WRF facility was substantially completed in August 2011. When launched, the WRF was the largest plant of its kind in North America and one of the largest in the world. The facility averages a daily flow of 17 million gallons, providing the City of North Las Vegas with the ability to maximize efficiencies of operations and water resources. The WRF operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, through an extensive computerized operational system.

For nearly a century, GE has been a partner in the MENA region, where it is working to satisfy demand for clean water, reliable electricity, better healthcare, more efficient transportation, and trusted financial services. GE has 4,200 employees in 30 offices, serving 35 facilities, in MENA (including Turkey). The region contains only 1.4 percent of the world's renewable fresh water, so GE's expertise is in great demand, especially in water reuse, wastewater treatment, and process solutions. From desalination to cooling water solutions, mobile water to petrochemical solutions, water recovery to boiler water solutions, GE Water & Process Technologies delivers a wide variety of products and services to its MENA clientele from GE's regional center in Dubai.

Concluded NUSACC's Amin Salam, "We are very grateful to GE for giving us this opportunity to tour the WRF, and we are deeply appreciative of the hospitality shared with us by everyone at the WRF facility."

Wrapping Up at International CES

The International CES in Las Vegas has been part of NUSACC's High Tech Road Show since the Road Show's inception, and this year was no exception. The International CES is a world-class event, a crossroads for technology practitioners form all over the world. This year's show drew more than 150,000 attendees from over 150 countries, and roughly one-fifth of the participants came from overseas.

Gary Shapiro, President & CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), noted, "The National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce has been bringing business and government leaders from the Arab world to International CES for six years. We greatly value NUSACC's High Tech Road Show, given the growing importance of the Middle East & North Africa region in the world economy."

Fawaz Bilbeisi, Economic Counselor & Director of the Economic and Commerce Bureau at the Embassy of Jordan, is a repeat participant in the HTRS. He noted, "This year's High Tech Road Show did an excellent job of developing new elements that adapt to the changing needs and challenges facing the Arab world. Specifically, the HTRS has incorporated a more extensive program for tech entrepreneurs and start-ups. This is vital for a country like Jordan, which is pursuing an aggressive strategy of creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem. With this in mind, our visits here to business incubators and accelerators has provided us with new perspectives on mentorships, venture capitalism, and other parts of the ecosystem that are relevant to Jordan."

Ahmed Khalil Abdulla, a HTRS delegate representing the Qatar Olympic Committee, shared his High Tech Road Show experience this way: "This is my first time attending CES, and it was amazing. We met many companies and found out about their current technologies and those coming in the near future. The NUSACC team members were very friendly and helpful in many ways."

Concluded Jasmin Silva Navarro, NUSACC's Director of External Affairs, "The High Tech Road Show is a great opportunity to connect member companies with Arab counterparts throughout the region. Building the right business connections that extend beyond the HTRS leads to future collaborations, an invaluable component of this annual gathering."

Funded in part through a grant award with the U.S. Small Business Administration