From left to right: Joe Harrison (Vice-Chair), H.E. Lody Embrechts (Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the UAE), H.E.
Robert Lauer (Ambassador of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg to the UAE), Jan Kamphuisen (Netherlands Embassy Liaison), Anne Lange
Belgian Embassy Liaison), Johan Mieloo (Treasurer), Sylvie Chehouri (Office & Event Manager), H.E. Peter Claes (Ambassador of the Kingdom
of Belgium to the UAE), Robin Vermaat (Director of Business Development and Members & Sponsorships), Barbara Farahnick-Mathonet
(Chairwoman), Thomas Chery (Director of Events), Laurent van Helden (Secretary) and Emmanuelle Entringer (Luxembourg Embassy Liason).
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.
H.H. Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan
Barbara Farahnick-Mathonet is the founder and president of The Art Circle Abu Dhabi, 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.
Vice Chairman & Director of Social Media
Joe Harrison is Shell’s joint venture asset manager in the UAE and Iraq. He is a director for the ADNOC Gas Processing joint venture in Abu Dhabi, and the Basrah Gas Company in Iraq. He is accountable for governance and influence for Shell, together with support for ADNOC, the Iraqi Ministry of Oil, and the countries’ objectives. His experience in Shell includes secondment 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.
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.
Director of Events
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.
Embassy Liaison, The Netherlands
Jan Kamphuisen is the Head of the UAE Office at Albright Stonebridge Group, part of Dentons Global Advisors. In his role he supports commercial and not-for-profit organisations in their engagement with governments. As a board member of the Benelux Business Council, he liaises with the Netherlands Embassy in Abu Dhabi in support of events and initiatives that further business relationships between the Netherlands and the United Arab Emirates. Jan previously worked at a global risk consultancy firm, where he headed up the political risk consulting practice for the MENA region. He also worked as a corporate lawyer in Cairo and Dubai. Jan started his career at the European Space Agency, where he focused on the Agency’s technology transfer and business incubator programs.
Director of Business Development & Director of Membership and Sponsorship
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. In 2017 he became a General Manager for a logistics company. Since 2021 Robin is Owner & CEO of RV CONSULTANCY, which provides Logistic & Management Consultancy Services. Robin is married to Lana, a lawyer and Regional Integrity Officer and has a son.
Embassy Liaison, Belgium
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.
Johan Mieloo has been working for Royal Dutch Shell for 15 years in various finance roles. Before joining Shell, Johan has worked as audit/risk manager for 6 years for Deloitte and TNT. Throughout his career, he has worked on the border of IT and Finance. Johan holds post-graduate degrees in Finance (RC- Registered Controller) as well as in auditing (RE- Registered IT Auditor). In his current role, Johan is seconded as the Manager Budget & Planning for ADNOC Gas Processing (AGP) Joint Venture since 2018. AGP is one of the largest gas processing plants in the world. Johan is the Treasurer for the Business Council since 2021. Johan is married to Yvonne and has two sons. He enjoys swimming and cycling in his free time.
Event and Office Manager
French national, mother of 3, Sylvie has been living in Abu Dhabi for 15 years now. She has recently (Oct 21) joined the Business Business Council . She is involved in volunteering with the French Association "Abu Dhabi Accueil", and is a Thermomix representative in Abu Dhabi.