Samsung’s Mystery Man

Just over a month ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Byung Woo Lee, the president and chief executive officer of Samsung Middle East & North Africa. He was an impressive character, and had taken the firm’s total annual sales in the MENA region to US$2.7 billion.

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By  Ben Dawson Published  February 26, 2006

|~||~||~|SAMSUNG’S MYSTERY MAN Just over a month ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Byung Woo Lee, the president and chief executive officer of Samsung Middle East & North Africa. He was an impressive character, and had taken the firm’s total annual sales in the MENA region to US$2.7 billion. Lee was clearly a man who very much enjoyed being at the centre of things in Dubai, telling me: “This is the place to be. This is the only company I have ever worked for and I have never thought of doing anything else. I have been in Dubai for five years now and I enjoy coming to work every day.” Not any more. It appears that shortly after the interview, in early January, Lee disappeared back to South Korea. No announcement of his departure was made, and there is no official word on what he is now doing for Samsung. Last week, Samsung issued a press release announcing the appointment of Chiwon Suh as president and CEO of its Middle East and Africa HQ. Suh is a Samsung veteran of over 23 years and I have no doubt he will do well. But despite being 566 words long, the release makes no mention of the great work done by Lee, or the fact he is no longer in Dubai. ROBBIE’S PAY DAY I can now reveal that pop superstar Robbie Williams is definitely coming to Dubai, for what promises to be not only the biggest concert the Middle East has ever seen, but also the biggest single pay day for the British singer. Williams’ tour agent X-Ray has been in talks with Dubai officials for several weeks, and both parties have now agreed on Friday, April 21 as the big day. And more importantly, according to my sources, Williams will be paid a record US$2.5 million to perform in Dubai for just one night. He will fly from Cape Town in South Africa to Dubai on Tuesday, April 18 for the show — one of 23 different concerts he will perform across 14 countries during the tour. GOOD BUSINESS Congratulations to the bods working on Oracle’s E-Business Suite software, which has been selected by Dubai’s Corporate Office to streamline its business operations. Nobody is happier than Francis Veldeman, the Corporate Office’s new chief information officer. I am very confident that Veldeman will work extremely well with Oracle. After all, he has spent three of the last four years working for Oracle. But don’t get the wrong idea. As he explains: “The contract is not anything to do with friendship or anything like that. It was a pure business decision that was put through a board member process.” UNLUCKY JIM I wonder how much longer British comic Jim Davidson can continue to live in Dubai. Starting on February 28, he will begin a new show at the Madinat Theatre, this time attempting to be a talk show host. The first guest lined up for Davidson is veteran BBC journalist Kate Adie. However, there are already doubts as to whether Davidson is capable of any non-offensive conversation. If his performance last week is anything to go by, the answer is no. He competed at a Rolls Royce-sponsored golf tournament at the Montgomerie Club, and was chosen as one of the guest speakers at the awards ceremony later in the evening. Losers of the golf tournament, Davidson said, would receive a set of Danish cartoons. WELL DONE Finally, congratulations to my good friend and colleague Ochi Ogbuaku II. The Nigerian born design wizard — the guy responsible for doing the really hard job on this magazine – last Monday became a proud father again, with the birth of his second child, Chief Ogbuaku III. Our very best wishes to Ochi and his family. ||**||

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