The world has changed in many more ways than one with the onset of the COVID-19 and as a result we have seen huge change globally, not least of which the abrupt pivot for industry and business to digital transformation. My time leading AACCI has indeed been a privilege and a pleasure, I am happy however to now welcome a new dynamic and a new leadership that will guide the Chamber into 2021 and beyond.

After serving close to two terms as the Chamber’s President and National Chairman, I announced my intention to vacate the position this month to the AACCI Board, citing the importance of time – it’s the one commodity we cannot buy or negotiate.  Time with family and time to concentrate on my own personal and professional interests will be my focus going into 2021.

I also felt that it is time for a younger generation of leadership to step into the role.  This is especially important for us all in mapping out our relationship between Australia and MENA going forward into the future.

According to the United Nations, nearly one in five people living in MENA is between the ages of 15-24.   Needless to say, it is a young persons’ game and being able to move with agility from tradition to innovation is a value unrivalled for any business, especially AACCI.

I am therefore extremely heartened to hand over the reins to James Harb, a lawyer and successful business entrepreneur whose experience is just the right leadership we need at AACCI, in a post Covid world.   James brings to the Chamber a strong vision for industry sector engagement including mining, agritech, medtech, education, F&B, defence, aviation, tourism, alternative energy and fintech.  With an acute awareness of the impact of the current trade tensions with China, the Chamber under James’s leadership will play a key role in assisting exporters to navigate the MENA market as many seek to pivot from the China market.

I sincerely look forward to continuing to serve the Chamber as an Independent Director on the National Board and in also supporting the incoming Chairman.  I wish to acknowledge the wise council of fellow Board Directors and I also wish to thank our National Secretariat Jessica Swann for her advice and in her support given to me in my role.   I must also express my appreciation to all who have cooperated during this period of change and indeed family, who often pay the price for our contributions and help us to navigate the inevitable rough patches.

In closing, I wish to acknowledge our new Chairman for enabling this opportunity to express my outgoing sentiments and a special thanks to all staff and State committees for your support, and to all our members who are our most important stakeholders.  My appreciation extends to all for the privilege of having led the Chamber over the last 5 years and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a safe and indeed, most prosperous 2021.


Roland Jabbour OAM
Board Member
Australia Arab Chamber of Commerce and Industry