EVENT: ABA's Annual Gala Dinner Sparkles

ABA's Annual Gala Dinner Sparkles

The Association's 2014 Annual Gala Dinner, held on 19 November, has been acclaimed as one of the best ever. Two hundred and seventy guests converged on the Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel in London's Knightsbridge to see Raymond Audi presented with the ABA's award for "Distinguished Services to Arab Banking", to hear speeches from Lady Olga Maitland and Baroness Warsi, and to be entertained by professional opera singers and a magician. The event also raised thousands of pounds for charity through the auction of two pictures donated by Rose Issa Gallery.

The Gala Dinner is the Association's flagship event and premier social occassion for the Arab Banking community in London.

After the champagne reception, the Association's Chief Executive, George Kanaan, welcomed guests to the dinner. George referred guests to the Gala Brochure -- this year running to 28 pages -- which profiled the evening's special guests. As the dinner got under way, the Association's Editor in Chief, Andrew Cunningham introduced Raymond Audi, the Chairman of Lebanon's Bank Audi. Andrew summarised Mr. Audi's achievements not only as a banker but also as a partron of the arts and a social philathropist. 

Abdulaziz al-Khereiji, the Chairman of the ABA, and George Kanaan then presented Raymond Audi will the Association's award for distinguished services to Arab Banking. In his acceptance speech, Mr. Audi commented on how both his professional and personal life is characterised by both optimistism and moderation.

Lady Olga Maitland, the former Conservative Member of Parliament and current President of the Defense and Security Forum, then introduced Baroness Warsi. Baroness Warsi was the first Muslim to serve in the British Cabinet and had led the British government's efforts on inter-faith dialogue. 

Later in the evening, two paintings, by Chant Avedissian and Jean Marc Nehas, were auctioned to raise money for Teach for Lebanon, a charity that enables underprivileged Lebanese children to continue their education where their family circumstances would otherwise have led them to leave school and look for work. 

Tenors Unlimited, a group of three professional opera singers, entertained guests with songs from classical opera and popular musicals and were joined by Lila McConigley, also a professional opera singer. Spencer Wood, a magician and mind reader, toured the tables, astonishing guests with feats of magic.

The Annual Gala Dinner is one of three social events held my the Arab Bankers Assocation every year to complement the evening seminars that address technical banking subjects. The Gala is always held in October/November. An Iftar is held during Ramadan and there is a Christmas Party.

This year's Christmas Party will be held on 16 December. 

The next evening seminar will be held on 2 December and will feature officials from the U.K.'s Financial Conduct Authority who will speak about the Authority's expections for licensed banks, and in particular for branches and subsidiaries of overseas banks. 

A selection of photographs from the Gala Dinner are attached below. More will be added in the next few days.
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