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.

Board of Directors 2017
Board of Directors 2017

From left to right: Titia De Mes, Thomas Chery, Sofie Vandewiele (Event and Office Manager), Henriane Mourgue d’ Algue (Treasurer), Laurent Van Helden (Secretary), Gilles Klein (Vice-Chairman), Barbara Farahnick-Mathonet (Vice-Chairwoman), Frank Wouters (Chairman)

Not on the picture: Mr. Gus Schellekens; Mr. Sam Van Steenbrugghe

H.E. Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan

Honorary Chairman

Frank Wouters - Chairman (Dutch National)

Frank Wouters possesses 25 years of international experience in the field of renewable energy. From 2009 to 2012 he served as the Director of Masdar Clean Energy, a developer and operator of renewable power generation projects, where he was responsible for projects representing enterprise value of more than $3bn in Asia, Africa and Europe. Frank Wouters was appointed Deputy Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in September 2012, a position he held for two years. He currently runs his own business from Masdar City’s free zone, and is Director of the EU-GCC Clean Energy Network (, a European Commission funded initiative that stimulates and fosters clean energy partnerships between the two regions. Mr. Wouters has worked throughout his career with a wide variety of stakeholders, including the private sector and government officials at the highest level. He is regularly invited as a speaker at international conferences and high-level meetings. Mr. Wouters holds a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands. He is married to Vivian with three kids, all of which by now are smarter, bigger or stronger than he is.


Thomas Chery - Vice-Chairman (Belgian National)

Thomas Chery has almost 20 years of international banking experience acquired in Brussels, London and Abu Dhabi. He 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 to first look after the Energy & Resources sector for the GCC/MENA region and subsequently Abu Dhabi Corporate & Institutional clients. In August 2014, he joined FGB to head the Corporate & Investment Banking in Abu Dhabi. 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 the end of 2008. Thomas holds a Master’s degree in Business Management from ICHEC in Brussels. He is married to Florence and they have 3 Children.

Gilles Klein - Vice-Chairman (Luxembourg National)

Gilles Klein is coming from Luxembourg. He has, as a member of Civil Defense, more than 40 years’ experience in emergency and rescue services. Being an active volunteer as well as certified trainer for accident and rescue he has a large experience in the branch. Since 1995 he made his leisure-time pursuit to his profession and introduced successfully One Seven, one of the most efficient firefighting devices in his home country Luxembourg as well as in different other countries worldwide. Since 2004 he is product manager One Seven, and he was one of the co-founders of the One Seven Academy. After first contacts to UAE in 2012, where he became a resident in 2014 he is today the president of One Seven Middle East introducing successfully the product range of the innovative technology as well for Civil Defense as for mobile and stationary high-rise firefighting. As a former student from the IST in Luxembourg he has a deep knowledge about the needs in Oil & gas industry, waste to energy and the renewable energy industry, which are also a scope of the innovative technology in UAE and all over the world. The daily contact and communication with professionals in this domain is allowing his company, who is permanently investing in research & development, to keep a leading position in the branch and is keeping today many patents for life saving firefighting and fire preventing systems.

Henriane Mourgue-d’Algue - Treasurer (Belgian National)

Henriane Mourgue d’Algue is a consultant and executive coach. She spent 15 years as an infrastructure specialist financing complex projects across the world for financial institutions. She lived and worked in Belgium, the USA, Singapore, the UK, India and now the UAE. She now brings her experience to help teams and individuals leverage diversity and adapt their leadership to our globalized world.

Laurent Van Helden - Board Member (Dutch National)

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.

Barbara Farahnick-Mathonet - Board Member (Belgian National)

Barbara Farahnick-Mathonet worked for more than 20 years for Chanel France. As a regional Sales Manager, she was responsible for the distribution of Chanel cosmetics covering the North of France regions. She oversaw the development of Chanel’s distribution network in terms of commercial negotiations, organization of events for the launch of new products. She was also in charge of developing long term relationship with customers in compliance with Chanel policy. Before that she worked 3 years for Estée Lauder as Sales Manager. She lived many years in Belgium, France, Luxembourg and now in the UAE since five years. When she lived in Luxembourg, she volunteered during her free time to help the Luxembourg Red Cross such as for the Bazaar and for the Red Cross.

Titia De Mes - Board Member (Dutch national)

Titia has 20 years’ experience working on water and wastewater projects across the globe. Titia joined the Dutch Consultancy firm Arcadis in 2014 and is responsible for the development of sustainable water solutions. Her advice helps organisations to comply with the latest environmental regulations, improve effluent discharge quality, unlock new revenue streams, and lower capital and operating expenditure through the implementation of innovative systems and treatment technologies. Her Middle East career started in 2008 with Aktins and she has since worked on a huge variety of projects in UAE, Bahrain, KSA, Kuwait, Oman and Jordan. She is a published author and holds a PhD that examines the impact of removing micropollutants from wastewater. At DHV and based in the Netherlands, she had the chance to work on many global water projects in e.g. China, Taiwan and Egypt. Titia met her husband Simon in Ghana where she worked on commissioning of the central wastewater treatment plant for Accra and they have a six-year-old son, who will tell anyone he is from Abu Dhabi..

Gus Schellekens - Board Member (Dutch national)

Gus Schellekens is currently a Partner at EY, having previously worked internationally for PwC and D&T as a climate, tax and management consultant. Gus these days works with clients to deliver the sustainability agenda for people, cities and infrastructure; and to support the development of government policy to enable the development of renewable energy projects. He has been working on climate change and sustainability matters in the Middle East for the last 8 years. Gus and EY have been members of the BeNeLux Business Council for a number of years.o the Council’s reach, content and support that it provides to individual and corporate members.

Sam Van Steenbrugghe - Board Member (Belgian national)

Sam Van Steenbrugghe has more than 15 years of experience in project and general managing. He started his career with Latexco NV in Belgium, a latex mattress company producing the famous Innergetic Mattress. After four years, he moved to Georgia, USA to be the Project Manager in charge of the construction and startup of a new 100000sf facility with a 600ft long continuous mattress topper production line. Latexco USA was born and he stayed two more years as the Vice President of Operations of the new facility

Then in 2008, he noticed an ad in the newspaper that Iemants, a Belgian company, was looking for a Project Manager for the construction of the façade of the Ferrari World Project on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, UAE. So Sam, together with a professional team of Iemants took on the challenge and after 1.5-year of hard work the façade and the bullnose of Ferrari World were constructed.

Now, after almost 10 years Abu Dhabi, under the leadership of Sam, Iemants Steel Construction
Middle East LLC successfully managed the steel construction for the Presidential Lounge Airport Abu Dhabi, the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi and the engineering challenge to open the funnel structure of Ferrari World for a new rollercoaster, The Turbo Track.

Mare Visser - Event and Office Manager (Dutch national)

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.

Become a member