For the past year and a half leading up to Expo 2020 Dubai, we have had the help and guidance of Belgium's three regions. The names of the three regional institutions are borrowed from the name of the territory they represent. So we refer to (from north to south) the Flemish Region, the Brussels-Capital Region and the Walloon Region.
Today we introduce Flanders Investment and Trade, who represent the Flemish region in Belgium and also in the UAE and many other countries in the world.
What is FIT, and what does the organization do exactly?
Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT) provides guidance to buyers and distributors worldwide on innovative and quality products & services offered by Flemish companies. We bring Flemish companies into contact with buyers all over the world.
At the same time, we advise and provide guidance to companies with an investment project in Flanders. Our experts assist investors in setting up business in Flanders.
Can you give a short description of the team and their functions?
The FIT office in Dubai is led by Kris Put, Commercial and Economic Attaché for Flanders.
Yoke Wagemans, Invest Deputy, is in charge of finding investment projects. Nele Delforche helps Flemish exporters interested in the UAE. Swafiya Tamim makes sure all runs well in the office.
In view of our extensive action program for EXPO 2020, the team will welcome 3 additional colleagues from July on.
In Brussels an enormous amount of work is handled by Evelien Staelens, Jeroen De Vuyst en Filippe De Potter.
Why is your organization important for Belgium in general and more specifically for Flanders?
Doing business in the Middle East, and more specifically in the UAE, seems pretty straightforward. However, many challenges arise when trying to achieve results. Cultural differences, a different legal system, language issues and other market characteristics represent hurdles Flemish companies not always expect.
Although Flanders has many strong features in order to attract foreign investments, it does not automatically pop up in the minds of investors.
Having a team on the ground, able to build a network and follow an ever faster changing market, makes it possible to guide exporters and investors.
What will you be doing at the Belgian Pavilion?
Our first major event, end of October, will be the Flanders Week. We will organize events focused on sectors featuring in the “Flanders Accelerates”-strategy.
At the same time, VITO, a Flemish research organization in the area of cleantech and sustainable development, will be organizing its fifth G-STIC conference, the first one taking place outside Belgium.
In the next five months we will be organizing sectoral weeks, e.g. focused on cycling, start-ups etc. Apart from that, throughout the 6 months of EXPO 2020, we will be hosting delegations from a wide variety of professional backgrounds.
What opportunities does Expo 2020 present for your organization?
EXPO 2020 will offer us extensive networking possibilities both with local and foreign companies as well as governmental organizations. It is a great occasion to strengthen our existing ties with the UAE and discover new opportunities.
At the same time we will be able to highlight Flanders as the source of a vast array of products and services. A lot of people consume or use what we make, without knowing where it all comes from.
Can you give us a sneak preview of what visitors can expect during the Flanders Week.
During the Flanders Week (23 - 28 October 2021) hosted by Mr. Jan Jambon, Minister-President of the Government of Flanders Minister for Foreign Affairs, we want to bring the Expo theme ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ into practice. You can expect some insightful seminars with high-level speakers, focused on topics such as health, circular economy, sustainable food production, CO2 reduction and space.
And of course, Flanders is also known for its thriving creative industry and culinary delights, so we also have an exciting cultural performance planned at the Dubai Millennium Amphitheatre and you can expect some tasty networking moments as well during the Flanders Week. Do visit our website www.flandersexpodubai.be to check our upcoming events as more details are coming up soon.
What do you expect regarding Flemish business people visiting during Expo, knowing the world has changed due to Covid19.
We feel an unbelievable level of interest from the Flemish business community.
EXPO 2020 will be one of the first large events held after the pandemic and already a lot of delegations from Flanders have planned their visit.
Will your offices be located at the Belgian Pavilion during Expo?
Indeed, we will have an office in the magnificent Belgian Pavilion, so that business people, whether they are Flemish, local or foreign can easily reach out to us.