David Galea / LinkedIn

David Galea, Chief Operations Officer (COO) at physical commodity trading firm Licena Group, on Friday marked 10 years since he made the move to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a switch that he described as “eye-opening” and a “defining moment” in his life.

“I never came here with a timeline in mind. It was never about doing a few years and going home. It was about seeing whether the UAE could become home, however you can define that,” he explained.

In 2014, Dr Galea left his life in Malta, where he had previously served as Senior Associate at a local law firm, to joined UAE-based Drydocks World LLC as Head of Legal and Company Secretary. He stayed at the firm for four years, and since then he has worked in multiple different companies in the country, focusing on shipping, energy, and commodities law.

Last July, he was appointed COO at UAE-headquartered strategic commodities trading firm Licena Group.

His experience in the country has been fruitful, and Dr Galea stated that he is extremely grateful to it and its people for the environment it has fostered, an environment that has allowed expatriates like himself to “flourish and prosper”.

“These 10 years have been eye-opening and have taught me much,” he said, before sharing some of his key takeaways from his life at the UAE, the country of “yellow sands and blue skies”.

Firstly, he highlighted the notion of leadership, stating that it is “rare in this day and age” to see leadership, particularly political leadership, being treated as a “privilege and a service”.

“Having had the opportunity to work for and with Government and being exposed to some of the higher echelons of Government, I have no doubt that this is how it is perceived,” Dr Galea explained.

He also stated that this experience has enabled him to appreciate the bravery present within the UAE’s leadership and their initiatives.

“Some of the initiatives we have all witnessed over the last decade and before that have been nothing short of incredible,” he remarked. These initiatives range from support to entrepreneurs and SMEs, to those supporting innovation and digital transformation.

Dr Galea added that it requires courage in order to take the leap when “every piece of logic dictates a conservative approach”. He noted that it is this brave way of thinking that has enabled the UAE to be what it is today.

Lastly, he stressed how ambitious people at the UAE are, saying that the words ‘cannot’ and ‘impossible’ “do not seem to form part of the local vernacular”.

“Impossible seems to be just red rag to a bull in terms of this country’s willingness to take on challenges. Let loose your ambition and go for it. The limitations that you perceive are a factor of the limits of your mind. Push them and they will give,” Dr Galea said.

“Here’s to the next 10 years and what they might hold,” he concluded.

Dr Galea holds a Doctor of Law (LLD) in Law and European Studies from University of Malta, together with a LLM in Maritime Law from University of Southampton. He is also qualified in strategic thinking and leadership for growth from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Featured Image:

Licena Group COO David Galea / LinkedIn


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