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Memorialís Gateway to the Middle East

By Meaghan Whelan

Gen. Rick Hillier (retired), chancellor of Memorial University, was among a contingent from Memorial in Abu Dhabi in late February representing the Faculty of Business Administration’s Gateway initiative.

Since its inception three years ago, Gateway, better known as Gateway Without Borders, has been connecting Newfoundland and Labrador companies with investors and strategic partners in the Middle East. It is uniquely positioned to drive growth in Atlantic Canada’s technology industry through its partners, the Centre of Excellence for Applied Research and Training (CERT) and the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT), in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

While in Abu Dhabi, Gen. Hillier met with Dr. Tayeb A. Kamali, the vice-chancellor of the Higher Colleges of Technology. Daryl Genge, director of Gateway, Gary Gorman, dean of the Faculty of Business, and Brian Colbourne with the Centre of Excellence for Applied Research and Training, took part in the meetings to discuss an expanded relationship between that institution and Memorial University.

The Memorial contingent was also in the United Arab Emirates for the announcement of a $370 million contract between Provincial Aerospace Limited (PAL) and the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces. Gateway has been providing support to PAL in their work in the United Arab Emirates.

The $370 million contract, which will create more than 100 new jobs in Newfoundland and Labrador, was announced at IDEX 2009, the International Defense Exhibition and Conference in Abu Dhabi. Gateway brought seven other Atlantic Canadian companies to participate in the conference in the hopes of increasing their opportunities and building connections in the region.

Mr. Genge hopes that the success of PAL will open the doors for many other companies in the lucrative UAE market. “There are countless opportunities in the UAE for Canadian firms, and PAL’s success is a great example of this,” he said. “The UAE will continue to be an economic powerhouse and interested companies need to be prepared to work in a business environment that is quite different than North America.”

Dr. Gorman said Gateway is another way that the faculty reaches out to the community. “Initiatives such as Gateway are an opportunity for the Faculty of Business to connect with and support local businesses,” he said. “Often there is a Memorial connection – many of the companies are owned and operated by alumni and we want to help them succeed. Our connections with other institutions, like CERT and HCT can be very valuable as companies look to expand into the Middle East.”

The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), which has been an essential component of Gateway since its inception, co-led this mission to IDEX 2009 and was in Abu Dhabi to provide on-the-ground support. Representatives from the Government of Newfoundland were also in attendance to show their continued support for Gateway and its clients.