Trade Mission to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates 

13th November 2016

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan TD led a three-day (November 13-15) Irish delegation to Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Dubai comprising of 37 companies.

The Trade Mission, organised jointly with Enterprise Ireland, is part of ongoing efforts to raise Ireland’s profile internationally, to improve the already-strong bilateral trade and investment linkages with the Gulf region, and to provide a forum for Irish companies active in Saudi Arabia and the UAE to develop their relationships with customers, partners, and other stakeholders. The Trade Mission is also part of Enterprise Ireland’s broad drive to increase the export market penetration and diversification of Irish companies post Brexit. 

The mission will facilitate high-level business contacts for Irish suppliers spanning a number of key sectors, including International Education, Lifesciences, Digital Media, ICT and Telecommunications, Financial Services, Aviation, Agri-technology and Business Services. 

During the trade mission, Minister Flanagan promoted Ireland and its world-class companies during a series of high level business engagements with private and public organisations.  He also undertook a series of engagements with representatives of the Irish business community in the region, including the Irish Business Network-Saudi Arabia, the Abu Dhabi Irish Business Council, and the Dubai Irish Business Network.

Speaking before his visit, Minister Flanagan said: 

“I am delighted to be leading this highly ambitious Trade Mission, involving 37 companies who are forging successful partnerships in Saudi Arabia and the Unites Arab Emirates. This visit will strengthen our economic, political and cultural ties with these key priority markets. The Gulf is a strategically important region for us and there are significant opportunities for even more Irish companies to do business here into the future. 

“This Trade Mission will include a number of high-level meetings and will serve to strengthen Ireland’s economic, political and cultural ties with these key priority markets. I look forward to working with our partners in Enterprise Ireland to produce real results for the Irish economy. Significantly, this mission is also an opportunity to reassure our important trading partners of Ireland’s commitment to the EU, following the UK vote last July.”

Kevin Sherry, Executive Director Global Business Development at Enterprise Ireland, who will accompany Minister Flanagan on the trade mission, added: 

“A key focus for Enterprise Ireland is growing indigenous Irish companies on a global scale. Trade Missions, like this multi-sectoral one to the Middle East, play a vital role in promoting Ireland’s world-class goods and services in international markets and Enterprise Ireland works with Irish companies to expand their international reach and penetration into high growth markets. 

“This trade mission will facilitate practical relationship building for Enterprise Ireland client companies with both current and prospective new customers in the region, as well as raising the profile of Ireland at the highest levels of Government in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The objective of these missions is to deliver increased export sales to the region which support job creation in Ireland.” 

Ahmad R. Younis, Secretary-General & CEO of the Chamber participated on this trade mission and added “that Irish exports to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia increased by 33% to nearly €1b while The Emirates increased by 23% to €441m in 2015.  Looking at recent export figures, 2016 looks like another year of increases for these two markets, which highlights the significant role that Arab markets plays in the Irish economy.  The performance growth of the Irish economy and the country’s strong recovery following the economic downturn, is having a very positive impact on Ireland’s trade with Arab countries.”

The three city Trade Mission incorporating Riyadh (13November), Abu Dhabi (14-15 November) and Dubai (15 November) involves a series of high level business meetings, targeted sector events, meetings with senior Government Ministers and one to one meetings between Irish businesses and a wide range of local businesses will also see the announcement of a number of new contract wins and business partnership agreements. 

A key objective of the Trade Mission is also to provide a strong platform to further promote Ireland and Irish companies as world class strategic partners across multiple sectors in the Middle East. These type of missions also demonstrate how Enterprise Ireland can act as a conduit to those world-class goods and services.