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July 12th-19th, 2009   


In his ongoing quest to see every inch of Canada, the Ambassador left his official residence in Ottawa on the morning of Sunday, July 12th, commencing his drive to attend Uruguay’s National Day Celebration. Although it was not to take place until July 18th, His Excellency thought he would get an early start as it was almost 1000 miles away.

Ambassador Bahah made his way to Montreal where he collected Mr. Shirish Suchak, our Honourary Consul for Quebec and Ontario, and continued on to the Granby Zoo, (www.zoodegranby.com) just north of Montreal. While being treated to a personal tour of the zoo by Animal Keeper, Karl Fournier, the Ambassador was re-united with his old friend, Sheba the Camel, who was a VIP at our National Day Celebration in May, 2009. From Granby they drove on to magnificent Quebec City for the night.

The following morning, Ambassador Bahah and Honourary Consul Suchak attended a meeting with Mr. Nemer Ramadan, Chief Desk Officer for the Middle East with the Ministry of International Relations for the Government of Quebec (www.mri.gouv.qc.ca). Mr. Nemer was extremely knowledgeable and delighted to meet with the Ambassador. They both looked forward to the Ambassador’s return in the Fall when he has been invited for an official visit to meet with the Premier and his colleagues.

Their second meeting in Quebec City was with Dr. Richard Poulin, Director of International Education and Monique Genereux, Senior Officer for Development and International Relations for Laval University (www.bi.ulaval.ca). Dr. Poulin is also a professor of mineral economics and Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Mining which was of particular interest to Ambassador Bahah. He was greatly encouraged by the excellent opportunities that exist for future collaboration with the University.

At the conclusion of this meeting, the Ambassador bid farewell to Mr. Suchak and headed onwards to New Brunswick. He arrived in the historic Village of Gagetown and spent the night at a charming Bed & Breakfast run by former Member of Parliament, Maurice Harquail, who served under Pierre Elliot Trudeau for ten years. The Ambassador had a good night’s sleep and gained some first-hand knowledge of one of Canada’s greatest Prime Ministers.

On Tuesday morning, Ambassador Bahah headed to Fredericton where he had the honour of meeting with New Brunswick’s Minister of Energy, The Honourable Jack Keir and his Director of Petroleum, Patrick Ervin.(www.gnb.ca) The Minister and Ambassador discovered much common ground and Minister Keir personally invited His Excellency to return to the Province as soon as possible in order to spend more time together sharing their vast wealth of knowledge of energy matters, and to meet the Premier and other colleagues.

The Ambassador was then driven to the coastal city of Saint John, where he met with Rodney West, the Member of Parliament for the area. They enjoyed a great meeting together and then Mr. West accompanied the Ambassador to the Irving Oil Refinery (www.irvingoil.com)where the Manager, Mr. Marcel Krauss took them on a personal tour of the facilities which were extremely impressive. This visit was featured, with an accompanying photograph, by the New Brunswick Telegraph Journal (www.telegraphjournal.canadaeast.com).

Following this, the Ambassador then headed back to Fredericton to the private residence of The Honourable Noel Kinsella, Speaker of the Senate (www.sen.parl.gc.ca/nkinsella), where they met prior to attending, at the invitation of the Speaker, the Convocation Dinner for St Thomas University(www.stthomasu.ca). This was a special honour for the Ambassador, especially as he was seated at Speaker Kinsella’s table, along with the University’s President, Dr. Michael Higgins, and the longest serving Mayor of Fredericton, (20 years), Mr. Brad Woodside (www.fredericton.ca). During the course of dinner conversation, Speaker Kinsella spoke of his enthusiasm to receive Yemeni students in Fredericton, particularly at St. Thomas University. This idea was discussed at length and heartily embraced by the President and the Mayor. The evening was an unforgettable experience.

The next morning, Wednesday, the Ambassador said farewell to Fredericton and headed back to Saint John for a meeting, luncheon and tour of the phenomenal Port of Saint John (www.sjport.com). His hosts were the President, Mr. Alwyn Soppitt and the Executive Vice President, Mr. Andrew Dixon. In view of the revitalization of Aden Port, this proved to be an extremely valuable meeting and an excellent relationship was established for future cooperation.

The next stop that day was Moncton, to meet with CEO, Mike Dorion, of the well-known Moncton Flight College (www.mfc.nb.ca). This was a meeting of fundamental importance to both parties, and discussions took place for a strategy to promote the College and recruit students from Yemen. They agreed to follow up on this once the Ambassador returned to Ottawa.

After this, the Ambassador crossed the New Brunswick border and headed to his final destination, the stunning coastal City of Halifax, Nova Scotia and the National Day Celebration for Uruguay. However, there were still quite a few people to meet and places to visit!

Halifax was particularly busy at this time due to the greatly anticipated arrival of the Tall Ships and a large musical concert. He stayed at a hotel overlooking the historic port and on Thursday morning, attended a breakfast meeting with members of the Canada-Arab Business Council. This meeting had been suggested by Richard Mann, Director-General of CABC (www.canada-arabbusiness.org) and kindly organized and hosted by Amber Germaine at her offices at EduNova (www.edunova.ca). In attendance were a variety of high-profile business leaders from prominent Halifax companies, as well as Stephane Crepeau, Trade Commissioner for Halifax from the Department of Foreign Affairs (www.tradecommissioner.gc.ca), and others involved in the field of education. As with prior meetings with CABC members, the Ambassador found the group to be energetic and extremely enthusiastic about the potential for collaboration.

At noon, His Excellency visited the Port of Halifax (www.portofhalifax.ca) where he had the opportunity for another excellent meeting, luncheon and tour of this truly exceptional facility. His hosts were Vice President of Business Development, George Malek, and Rob McInnes, the Director of Economic Development. Once again this proved to be extremely fruitful, offering tremendous potential for future association with Aden Port.

Friday morning, His Excellency was extremely happy to meet with Dr. Colin Dodds, the President of St Mary’s University (www.smu.ca) and Dr Alan Boutet, Director of International Development Studies. The focus was on the expansion and the vast array of future possibilities for partnership between this heralded institution and Yemen, and several exciting ideas were put forward for consideration.

In the afternoon, Ambassador Bahah was invited to meet with Chief Financial Officer, Lisette Hachey and Chief Geologist, Dr. Tom Martel of Corridor Resources (www.corridor.ca). This was of particular interest given the Ambassador’s personal interest in petroleum. It was a great opportunity to share knowledge and experience with a view to developing a deeper relationship in the future.

Later that afternoon, an extremely jovial meeting and reception was held with the Yemeni community and student body on the premises of St Mary’s University. This event was extremely well organized, thanks to Ehab Muharram, who was also responsible for the miraculous stewardship of the Ambassador throughout his eventful visit to Halifax. At the meeting, both students and community decided to form their own formal organizations in order to more efficiently stay in touch with one another and events.

Saturday marked the arrival of the day of the great Uruguayan event for which the Ambassador had traveled by way of four provinces, many cities and countless meetings. However, he was still able to squeeze in one more important meeting with Bill Casey, the former long-term Member of Parliament from Nova Scotia, who now represents the Provincial Government of Nova Scotia in Ottawa (www.gov.ns.ca/ia). His Excellency had a wonderful meeting with Mr. Casey, establishing a very good personal relationship and both very much welcomed the idea of working closely together in the future.

Well, it was a very well-traveled Ambassador that finally found his way to the Tall Ship known as the “Captain Miranda” for the fantastic Celebration of Uruguay’s National Day. On board were several of his new friends, plus some familiar colleagues from Ottawa, including the Ambassadors of Portugal and Brazil. It came as no surprise to discover that, before calling it a night, His Excellency discovered yet another excellent party, this time on board the Brazilian Coastguard Tall Ship! It was a magical end to a week of unparalleled success.

The voyage to this particular celebration was quite remarkable. While many had suggested that it would be more efficient to fly, his decision to drive provided him with an astonishing journey of discovery of the abundant wealth of Maritime Canada. It also served to launch new and valuable relationships that might otherwise have been missed, and, above all, revealed extraordinary possibilities that exist for alliance and cooperation between Canada and Yemen.

His Excellency would also like to thank all of the people he encountered for their abundant kindness and willingness to share their valuable time with him at such short notice, and, in particular, his heartfelt thanks to Senator Kinsella and his wonderful staff who went far beyond the call of duty in their efforts to make his trip so successful, comfortable and action-packed.

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