The inaugural edition of the Asian Business Leadership Forum rolled out elegantly on October 3, 2012 at the Dubai International Financial Centre in Dubai, UAE.

HH Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, UAE Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, in his key-note speech, which was an extraordinary ode to India and the rest of Asia, referred to Indian Minister for Urban Development, Minister Kamal Nath, as his brother, thus setting the tone for the event, a true celebration of intra-Asia camaraderie and friendship. His Highness said, “The Forum highlights the fact that leaders must have a global view and an understanding of how their organizations, their countries, and their regions fit into the global context. Leadership in this age requires the ability to build relationships and break through barriers. I am confident that the Asian Business Leadership Forum will help strengthen Asian economies.”

The Forum Chief Chair, Minister Kamal Nath, a veteran politician, statesman and economist of immense experience, in his address said that India and the UAE have had a friendship that stands as a testament and proud example to the rest of Asia and the world. He reiterated the importance of the Infrastructure sector in the world today, and said that “the 90s was the decade of IT and we are now in the decade of Infrastructure.”

The event was attended by senior Ministers, business leaders and policy makers from the participating constituencies of the Gulf, India and South-East Asia and expert panelists delved into a fascinating analysis of Industry, finance and government in Asian economies; public-private partnerships in Infrastructure; and Asia’s unique Energy story bringing illuminating insights to each topic.

The Panel Moderators included Mr TKA Nair – Advisor to the Indian Prime Minister of India - whose knowledge of the processes of evolving policies and structuring projects at the Central Government level to bring mega infrastructure projects to life made his presence as moderator of the Infrastructure panel a compelling one; Dr Tayeb Kamali – Vice Chancellor of the Higher Colleges of Technology, UAE - who brought a broader and more scholarly focus to the discussions that made a formal business discussion more academically compelling; and Mr Rajiv Luthra - one of the world's most sought after lawyers, whose involvement in structuring some of the most awarded deals across the region makes him an expert on the Energy sector.

The ABLF’s expert panel of speakers epitomized some of the defining entities in the region’s business-scape. Naveen Jindal, the man behind the transformation of Jindal Steel and Power Limited India into a world class organization that girdles the globe, held forth on two sessions. His sharp rhetoric was well received by the audience and press alike.

The other leading Asian conglomerates represented were Kizad - Abu Dhabi Government's Industrial Zone of the future; Etisalat – Middle East’s largest communication operator; Masdar – Abu Dhabi and Mubadala’s pioneering renewable energy initiative; Dodsal Group – a multi-billion dollar EPC conglomerate; NTPC Ltd – India’s largest power company; Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman – a law firm based in world’s major financial centres, with a keen industry focus on the energy and natural resources; PT Semen Gresik – the foremost cement company in South-East Asia; and IDFC Limited – India’s premier financial services institution focused on Infrastructure, who were the lead Knowledge Partners and a very important associate of the event.

The panels also included Dr Chatib Basri – Chairman of BKPM (Indonesia) – who drew applause for his impassioned pro-Asia rhetoric; Ms Fatima Al Jaber – Group COO of the Al Jaber Group and the first female member to sit on the Board of the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Sheikh Abdul Aziz Ahmed Sultan Al Hosni – Vice Chairman and President of the Qurum Business Group, Oman; and Mr Essa Al Ghurair – the man behind Al Ghurair Investment’s foray into the energy sector.