March 11th 2015
The inaugural Arab Irish Business Forum was held on March 11th 2015 at the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, in Dublin. The day-long event was jointly organised by the Arab-Irish Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise Ireland, Emirates Airline, and Bord Bia.
The 300 delegates were welcomed by the Chairman of the AICC, Joe Geoghegan, who highlighted the importance of the Arab markets for Ireland and who then outlined the significant opportunities on offer to Irish companies, especially in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.
The Forum, was formally opened by Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Employment, Richard Bruton TD, and attended by Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney.
Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Employment, Richard Bruton TD.
The keynote address was given by Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman of Dubai Duty Free, and the closing address by the Chief Executive & Secretary-General of the Arab Irish Chamber of Commerce, Ahmad Younis. The diplomatic view on trade between Ireland and the Gulf States was presented by H.E. Patrick Hennessy, Irish Ambassador to the UAE, H.E. Tony Cotter, Irish Ambassador to KSA, and H.E. Abdulaziz Aldriss, KSA Ambassador to Ireland and Mr. Mohammed Al Shamsi, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Ireland.
Julie Sinnamon, CEO of Enterprise Ireland, Enda Corneille, Emirates Ireland Manager, and Aidan Cotter, CEO of Bord Bia, also attended. Speakers included Declan Hegarty, MD of JP Morgan Middle East; Fergal McGarry, marketing director, Irish Dairy Board; Ramzi Salman, former senior adviser to Minister of Industry & Energy, Qatar; Sean O’Driscoll, CEO of Glen Dimplex; and Eugene McQuaid of Vodafone Qatar.
L-R: Trevor McFarlane ,Founder & Chief Executive, EMIR; H.E. Patrick Hennessy, Irish Ambassador to the UAE; H.E. Tony Cotter, Irish Ambassador to KSA; H.E. Abdulaziz Aldriss, KSA Ambassador to Ireland; Mohammed Al-Shamsi, Deputy Head of Mission, UAE.
Delegates heard about the huge potential for Irish business presented by the Arab markets, which, in 2014, was valued at circa €4bn for goods and services and is expected to grow to €6bn by 2020. The region’s appetite for Irish produce is growing, with food and drink exports reaching €237m in 2014. And an increase in jobs is expected to rise from an estimated 8,000 at present to over 14,000 over this period.
The forum focused in particular on the Gulf States, which currently account for 70% of Ireland’s exports to the Arab region, and which offer the best opportunities for Irish exporters in the immediate future. The event marked a significant milestone in trade and commercial relations between Ireland and the Gulf states, a relationship that has seen Irish exports to the region, comprising manufactured goods and services, growing by 16% in the past year.
Speakers shared their knowledge, experience and advice through presentations, panel discussions and keynote speeches. Senior executives from Irish companies exporting to or operating in the region contributed their own unique insights into doing business in the region and the challenges they have faced and overcome.
Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman of Dubai Duty Free
There are over 450 indigenous Irish companies currently operating in the Gulf region including Jones Engineering, Byrne Looby, Glen Dimplex, Glanbia, Chanelle Pharmaceuticals, PM Group, Glenbeigh Records Management and Kerry Group.
According to the organisers, the Arab Irish Business Forum highlighted how the Arab markets represent one of the most important trading opportunities for Ireland outside of North America and the EU. The chairman of the Arab-Irish Chamber of Commerce, Joe Geoghegan, said: “This is a fantastic platform from which Irish businesses can learn about doing business with the Arab markets. Trade with the region is growing year-on-year and the government’s recognition of this potential is clear with Enterprise Ireland, Bord Bia and Tourism Ireland all very active on the ground. This level of activity and commitment should encourage anyone thinking of exploring new business opportunities, regardless of size or ambition, to explore a little further.”
Aidan Cotter, CEO Bord Bia, Simon Coveney, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine and Joe Geoghegan, Chairman of AICC and Honorary Consul of Jordan.
Ahmad Younis, Chief Executive & Secretary-General of the Arab Irish Chamber of Commerce
Simon Coveney, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.