In November, DC Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Angela Franco joined other DC government and business leaders on an exploratory excursion to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). They were a part of a larger delegation of celebrities, former athletes and business figureheads exploring the city’s tech and business sectors through a new program, Access Abu Dhabi. Powered by the Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO), the Access Abu Dhabi initiative was developed by Maven Global Access to connect women and minority entrepreneurs with business opportunities in the UAE’s capital. The program’s founder, Sarah Omolewu, was inspired to pay it forward based on her own success as an African American growing an award-winning entertainment marketing agency in the UAE over the last decade. Named UAE’s top 100 most influential three years in a row, her vision to create meaningful connections between the east and west came alive during the inaugural trip, which brought together the diverse group of influential business pioneers led by program ambassador Kevin O’Leary of “Shark Tank.”
Other delegates from DC included the District’s Director of International Trade & Commerce Andres Hayes, President of the Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Nicole Quiroga, DC Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development John Falcicchio, author and mother of NBA superstar Kevin Durant, Wanda Durant, Halcyon’s Kate Goodall, West Front Strategies’ Ashley Davis, sports physician Dr. Melita Moore and venture capitalist Patrice King Brickman. Rounding out the delegation were actress Christina Milian, actor Hill Harper, Manchester United legend Patrice Evra, NBA champion Metta World Peace, National Urban League’s President & CEO Marc Morial and Triller’s Chief Growth Officer Bonin Bough.
“This trip gave us the opportunity to experience how Abu Dhabi is flourishing at attracting tech startups and fostering a culture of innovation. At the DC Chamber of Commerce, we are always eager to learn from the successes from cities around the world have had in building and supporting their local business community and encouraging our members to consider expanding internationally,” said Angela Franco, DC Chamber of Commerce President & CEO.
During the three-day trip from November 20 – 23, the delegation toured public and private sector entities. They also met with Emirati business leaders and investors to explore the business and innovation ecosystem Abu Dhabi has built. The envoy coincided with the opening of ADIO’s New York and San Francisco offices and Fintech Abu Dhabi, a premier conference highlighting the advancements of fintech startups, entrepreneurs and established companies within the global fintech arena. Many of the delegates participated in panels addressing policy, entrepreneurship, implications of crypto and impacts of a digital-first future. Additionally, they visited cultural landmarks (Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, presidential palace Qasr Al Watan and the Louvre Abu Dhabi) and absorbed elements of the emirate’s rich 50-year history.
The select group was able to leverage Maven’s strong network in the region and engage in productive conversations about their respective synergies, all while learning about Abu Dhabi’s favorable business landscape and its inclusive DNA – more than 200 nationalities call the UAE home.