Benelux business council Abu Dhabi

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Board of Directors

The Board of Directors is made of not less than 5 and not more than 9 persons of Benelux origins and the board should be divided between the three nationalities: Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg. Therefore, it has to be composed of at least two Dutch, two Belgians and one Luxembourger. The BBC also has 1 Event and Office Manager. 

Honorary Chairman

H.H. Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan


Barbara Farahnick-Mathonet

Chairwoman & Embassy Liaison, Belgium

Barbara Farahnick-Mathonet is the founder and president of ADCA (Abu Dhabi Circle of Art), a group of women aiming at developing the Art Community. She is also an ambassador for Abu Dhabi Art Fair. Before that she worked for more than 20 years for Chanel France where she was a regional Sales Manager, responsible for the distribution of Chanel cosmetics covering the North of France regions. Previously, she worked for Estee Lauder as a Sales Manager for 3 years. She lived many years in Belgium, France, Luxembourg and now in the UAE for seven years. 

Joe Harrison

Vice Chairman

Joe Harrison is Shell’s joint venture asset manager in Abu Dhabi, and a director for the ADNOC Gas Processing joint venture. He is accountable for governance and influence for Shell, together with support for ADNOC and the Emirate’s objectives. His experience in Shell includes secondment to the Basrah Gas company in Iraq, management of Shell Gabon’s front end and discipline engineering teams, technical and project consultancy from Shell Global Solutions in Malaysia, and process engineering in the NAM, The Netherlands. Joe is British, and a chemical engineer from Cambridge University. He enjoys spending time in the desert, and private flying in Ras Al Khaimah. Married to Hermione, a banking and finance lawyer.

Emmanuelle Entringer

Vice Chairwoman & Embassy Liaison, Luxembourg

Emmanuelle Entringer is a Counsel at Arendt & Medernach and the head of their Dubai office. Arendt & Medernach are the largest law firm in Luxembourg and their Dubai office advises clients in the GCC and India on Luxembourg legal matters. Emmanuelle is a Luxembourg national and holds a post-graduate diploma in Commercial Law from Paris I University. She has been working in the UAE for over 12 years and prior to that worked in Luxembourg for various banks and asset managers. Emmanuelle founded the Middle East Working Group of the Association of the Luxembourg Fund Industry. For the last year she served as a board member of the BBC and was in charge of the relations with the Luxembourg embassy.

Thomas Chery

Secretary & Director of Membership and Sponsors

Thomas Chery has over 20 years of international banking experience acquired in Brussels, London and Abu Dhabi. He has been on the Board of the Benelux Business Council since May 2016. Thomas started his professional career in the Corporate & Investment Banking division of Deutsche Bank in Brussels before moving to London in early 2004 where he worked for RBS and managed corporate relationships in the Benelux region. In late 2008, Thomas moved to the UAE with RBS. In August 2014, Thomas joined FAB (First Abu Dhabi Bank) to head Corporate & Investment Banking in Abu Dhabi and is now Managing Director & Head of Global Subsidiaries for Abu Dhabi in the Corporate & Investment Banking division of FAB. Over the years, Thomas has amassed a wealth of knowledge in international banking & financing matters as well as the energy sector. He has an extensive network of business & social connections in Abu Dhabi where he has lived & worked since November 2008. Thomas holds a Master’s degree in Business Management from ICHEC in Brussels. He is married to Florence and they have 3 Children.

Laurent van Helden


Laurent van Helden has 15 years of experience in the international oil and gas sector. He is general manager for the Frames Group office in the UAE, a position he has held since 2009. Frames Group is a Dutch company that designs and manufactures oil and gas processing equipment for the upstream oil and gas industries. Laurent van Helden has lived most of his life outside of the Netherlands with long stints in Australia and India before moving to the UAE. Laurent holds a bachelor degree in engineering from the University of Sydney. He is married to Mirjam, who is co-owner of The Room Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi’s Fitness and Lifestyle club.

Frank Wouters

Embassy Liaison, The Netherlands

Frank Wouters has been leading renewable energy projects, transactions, and technology development for 30 years. He has played a lead role in development of renewable generation projects valued at over $5 billion. As Deputy Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) he managed a US$350 million IRENA/Abu Dhabi Fund for Development project facility. Frank has served on the board of energy companies in Europe, Asia, Africa and the USA. He currently serves as Director of the EU GCC Clean Energy Technology Network, Global Lead Green Hydrogen at Worley, he is Fellow, Payne Institute, Colorado School of Mines and he is interim Board Chairman of Gorestreet Capital, London and Board Advisor Vast Solar, Australia. Frank has authored several books on renewable energy.

Robin Vermaat

Director of Business Development

Robin Vermaat has over 18 years’ experience in Freight Forwarding in the Middle East and Europe.

Over the years, he has been responsible for Supply Chain, Sales Management, B2B Sales, Marketing & Strategic Implementation.

Robin has worked in Iraq for 2 years and is in the UAE for 10 years where he built a wide network of business connections allowing him to create strong ties and business relationships with internal and external stakeholders.

He holds a bachelor degree in Commercial Marketing & Communications from the Netherlands. He is the General Manager for a logistics company since 2017. Robin is married to Lana, a lawyer and Regional Integrity Officer and has a son.

Anne Lange

Director of Events

Anne Lange is currently the Household Manager for the Ambassador of the United States of America. The position covers the planning of all events organized at the ambassador's residence.

For the past 6 years, she has been a member of the operations team for the yearly trek, the Women Heritage Walk. She is involved in the planning and logistics to take over 60 women on a 5 days trek in the desert and offering them safety, sleeping accommodations, food and cultural events.

Prior to her arrival in the UAE, she was based in Washington DC where she held the position of Household Manager at the Canadian Embassy for 10 years, and personal assistant to the German Ambassador's wife.

She has been based in Abu Dhabi with her family since 2007.

Mare Visser

Event and Office Manager

Mare Visser has worked for five years at the Marketing & Communication Department at Amsterdam University College (AUC), the liberal arts & science college of the University of Amsterdam and the Free University of Amsterdam. She also worked as a digital marketing & social media specialist for different agencies in Amsterdam and Abu Dhabi. Since December 2019, Mare is working as the Event & Office Manager for the BeNeLux Business Council where she handles everything ranging from events, PR, administration to members and sponsor management. 

From left to right: Loic Bertolli (Deputy Head of Mission Luxembourg Embassy & Executive Director of the Luxembourg Trade and Investment Office), Douwe Buzeman (Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands) Emmanuelle Entringer (Embassy Liaison, Luxembourg), H.E. Frank Mollen (former Ambassador of the Netherlands to the UAE), Gilles Klein (Vice-Chair), Barbara Farahnick-Mathonet (Chairwomen), Frank Wouters (Vice-Chair), H.E. Elisabeth Cardoso (Ambassador of Luxembourg to the UAE), Laurent van Helden (Treasurer), Carole Chapelier (Embassy Liaison, Belgium), Frederic Van Peteghem (First Secretary, Embassy of the Kingdom of Belgium), Sam van Steenbrugghe (Sponsor Relations) and Joe Harrison (Embassy Liaison, The Netherlands). 

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