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Live stream takes conference to the world

In August 2019, Flinders University College of Business, Government and Law approached CAAR for funding to work on a project to develop Arab-Australian investment and trade relationships. Associate Professor Hossein Esmaeili, internationally recognised authority on Middle Eastern Law, aimed to demonstrate the linked nature of law and culture in international trade relations, particularly in the Middle East. Associate Professor Vivienne Brand was confident there would be a great deal of interest in the project as there were limited resources available in relation to the corporate law of Arab nations from the perspective of Australian Investors.

The CAAR funds would support running an international conference and allow the Convenors to produce post conference material and publish research papers, based on themes of the program. These conference proceedings would then be distributed amongst Arab-Australian businesses, professional advisers, government policy makers and industry representatives to further promote the relationship between Australian and the Arab Nations. The project outcomes would become a springboard for ongoing multi-lateral networking and help resolve misunderstandings in relation to legal cultures of the Arab world.

Speakers at a podium with cameras on tripods directed towards them
Behind the scenes, Associate Professors Hossein Esmaeili and Vivienne Brand prepare to open the conference with their Convenor address - photo credit Vanessa Mills-Cock

CAAR funds were approved and planning commenced on a two-day international business and corporate law conference, inviting speakers from the Arab States and Australia to share their perspectives and experiences. A delegate dinner was intended for participants to network over delicious Afghan food from a local family run restaurant. Keynote speakers had agreed to fly in from Dubai and Qatar as well as from all over Australia. Planning was well underway for the June 2020 Conference when the reality of Covid19 restrictions hit. Not only was international and domestic travel impossible, the reality of social distancing meant delegates would not be able to attend the conference in person.

With the amount of interest from Australia and Arab participants beyond our expectations, the project team worked with CAAR to re scope how we could still deliver the project. A postponement and technology were the answer. Flinders University already had advanced technology on its City campus for remote teaching, however, to live stream a back-to-back speaker program, including a live Q&A panel, around the world to participants, within different time zones, seemed impossible.

Speakers at podium and small audience in the room watching them
Behind the scenes, Associate Professors Hossein Esmaeili & Vivienne Brand make their opening Convenor address to the world while Mr Soufiane Rboub, Board member Council for Australia Arab Relations and State Chair, SA, Australia Arab Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Associate Professor Tania Leiman, Dean of Flinders University College of Business, Government and Law, Ms Kerri Thomas, Project Officer and Professor Michael Gilding, President & Executive Dean of Flinders University College of Business, Government and Law look on as the studio audience - photo credit Vanessa Mills-Cock

The project team underwent a crash course in live stream technology, meeting with technical audio-visual experts in Adelaide and continued to work with speakers on solutions to include their presentations. The program was condensed to one day and speakers presenting live from Arab time zones were moved to afternoon sessions. Three Arab Ambassadors in Australia, that could not present in person, were supported in making a pre-recorded address. Conference delegates were given a simple link to join the conference that worked on global web interfaces and did not rely on the user’s technology set up or time. Live audience questions for the speakers and the Q&A panel would be facilitated by ‘Slido’ and directed by the Convenors.

The 2021 Arab-Australian International Business & Corporate Law Conference was held on 20th April with significant reach through livestreaming to over 150 delegates around the world. CAAR’s funds allowed investment in additional planning time and technical support to deliver a stream of shared information and global audience participation. “The level of interest nationally and internationally in the program was outstanding, reflecting the quality of the speakers and the diversity of the topics” Convenor, Vivienne Brand said.

This event would not have been possible without CAAR’s support and the project has already facilitated an invitation for ongoing collaboration with 2 Universities in Qatar and commitment from Ambassadors and speakers to be involved in future projects. We look forward to growing international connections and continuing to remove cultural barriers knowing we can do this despite a covid world, social distancing and travel restrictions.

Author: Event Project Officer, Kerri Thomas

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