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Kentucky Chamber leaders work to strengthen ties to Dubai

Trade mission to be led by governor and first lady

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Nov. 11, 2013) — Board members of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce will travel to the Middle East later this week to strengthen business ties with Dubai, one of the seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Kentucky and Dubai have developed a strong relationship during the past two decades as the emirates’ royal family has emerged as a major force in the thoroughbred industry and has purchased thoroughbred operations in Central Kentucky.

Gov. Steve Beshear and First Lady Jane Beshear will serve as honorary leaders of the Kentucky Chamber delegation.

“We are delighted that the Beshears agreed to lead this delegation. It will allow us to put our best foot forward as we build on the relationships with our friends in Dubai,” said Chamber President and CEO Dave Adkisson. “The fact that Mrs. Beshear became good personal friends with Her Royal Highness Princess Haya bint Al Hussein of Dubai during the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Lexington fits beautifully with the intent of our trade mission.”

Elizabeth McCoy, president of Planters Bank in Hopkinsville and Kentucky Chamber board chair, along with her husband Hal McCoy, will lead the roster of business leaders. Others in the delegation include Wil James, Jr., and his wife, Michaelene. James is president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky, Georgetown, and is chair-elect of the Kentucky Chamber. (Click here for the full list of delegates). Most delegates are board members of the Kentucky Chamber and they or their respective companies are paying their travel expenses.

“We have wonderful connections to the leaders of Dubai,” said McCoy. “The UAE purchases more than $140 million of Kentucky products each year. From 2009 to 2011, Kentucky exports to the UAE included $85 million of automobiles, $59 million of horses, $42 million of aircraft parts and $27 million of filters. Other exports include two very successful restaurants opened in Dubai by Louisville-based Texas Roadhouse and purchases of luxury houseboats manufactured in Somerset.”

Activities planned for the visit include an economic briefing by His Excellency Hamad Buamim, the director general of the Dubai Chamber. The group will visit the $1.3 billion Maydan Racecourse; the Burj Kahlifa which is the world’s tallest building; the famous hotel, Burj Al Arab; and experience the region’s history and culture while visiting the many souks (markets) of Old Dubai. The delegation also has plans to visit the Dubai World Port and the Financial District for a briefing on regional exporting practices. Gov. Beshear and the First Lady will attend many of the Kentucky delegation events, but will also call on specific companies in the UAE, which have expressed an interest in Kentucky.

HRH Princess Haya will host the Kentucky delegation for a private reception overlooking the World Famous Dubai Fountains and high tea at the Zabeel Royal Stables.

Accompanying Gov. Beshear will be Economic Development Secretary Larry Hayes and Public Safety and Protection Secretary Robert Vance, who oversees the Kentucky Racing Commission.

Dubai is considered a commercial gateway to hundreds of millions of people in Africa, the Middle East and the broader Islamic world.

“I think of Dubai almost like Hong Kong when it served for decades as the gateway for doing business in China,” said Adkisson. “Dubai is more than just Dubai. It is the gateway to a powerful emerging market including much of two continents. To do business on those two continents, you have to do business in Dubai.”

Adkisson led a delegation of chamber executives from across the U.S. to Dubai in 2010 and met with the ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum at the Royal Palace. They discussed Sheikh Mohammed’s plans to participate in the World Equestrian Games, his relationship to Central Kentucky and opportunities for expanding trade between Dubai and the U.S. Sheikh Mohammed and various business groups in Dubai own horse farms in the Lexington area as well as the Fasig-Tipton Sales Pavilion in Lexington.

The Chamber has become much more involved with international trade in the past three years, co-sponsoring Beshear’s trade mission to Canada earlier this year, forging a strategic partnership with the World Trade Center of Kentucky, engaging former Gov. Martha Layne Collins as the Chamber’s Ambassador-at-Large for International Trade and participating with local chambers to sponsor more than a dozen export seminars around the commonwealth in 2013.  Kentucky ranks 11th in exports per capita and hopes to double its exports in the next five years.