News & Events

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar leads Enterprise Ireland Trade Mission to Gulf Region

  • 60 Irish companies participate in five-day visit to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates: the largest Trade Mission undertaken by Enterprise Ireland since 2019

  • 12 Enterprise Ireland clients participating in Dubai Air Show, the world’s largest aviation gathering

  • Gulf region is a major growth market for Ireland, exports to United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia in 2020 grew by 12% and 6% respectively

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar will lead Enterprise Ireland’s trade mission to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), commencing today, Saturday 13th November. The five-day trade mission, visiting Riyadh and Dubai, will support the accelerated export-led recovery of Irish businesses in the Gulf region.

Exports by Enterprise Ireland supported companies to the IMEA (India, Middle East and Africa) region remained strong in 2020, valued at €1.152 billion. Growth in exports by Irish companies to the UAE and Saudi Arabia last year, even against the backdrop of a global pandemic, increased by an impressive 12% and 6% respectively, signifying the continued strong opportunities that exist in this rapidly growing market.

The trade mission will be the largest undertaken by Enterprise Ireland following the onset of COVID-19, with 60 Irish companies taking part, representing a wide range of sectors including, aviation, higher education, healthcare, equine, agritech, food, fintech and construction. The mission aligns with Ireland’s participation in EXPO2020 Dubai and is also the first high-level Ministerial trade mission to Saudi Arabia in over half a decade.

Speaking ahead of the trade mission, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar commented:

“There are huge opportunities for Irish SMEs exporting to the Gulf region. Even with the pandemic, exports to the United Arab Emirates grew by 12% and Saudi Arabia by 6% last year. This mission will be about strengthening those opportunities and growing market share for Irish companies. Trade will be crucial to our recovery and now after Brexit, it’s more important than ever for Irish companies to diversify and explore new markets for their goods and services.

Aviation is one of the sectors worst affected by COVID-19. Ireland is a global leader in aviation, home to 250 world-leading aviation and aerospace companies. It’s been an incredibly tough couple of years for everyone working in the sector. I’m looking forward to attending the Dubai Air Show, which is the largest of its kind in the world, with a view to opening up new opportunities for Irish aviation.”

As part of the mission, 12 Enterprise Ireland client companies including Dublin Aerospace, Botany Weaving, DAAI, Aero Inspection and Shannon IASC are exhibiting at the Dubai Airshow, one of the biggest aviation trade shows in the world.

With a focus on furthering strengthening Ireland’s position in the aviation industry worldwide, Enterprise Ireland will present the Irish Aviation House, a major new initiative at Dubai Airshow 2021 designed to showcase the depth and breadth of Ireland’s world-leading aviation and aerospace ecosystem. The Tánaiste and Enterprise Ireland CEO Leo Clancy will deliver keynote addresses to an Irish aviation breakfast event and the joint IATA (International Air Travel Association) – Enterprise Ireland symposium with leading C-suite executives from some of the world’s leading airlines.

Leo Clancy, CEO, Enterprise Ireland said, 

“The gulf region is a dynamic market, presenting strong opportunities for Irish companies to succeed across various sectors. Innovative partnerships are necessary to deliver on the region’s strong economic ambitions. There has been continued growth in Irish company exports to the Gulf in recent years and Enterprise Ireland’s focus is to support more companies to succeed in this exciting market full of opportunity.

Despite the challenges of COVID-19 and, Enterprise Ireland client exports experienced strong growth in 2020 across the Saudi and UAE markets, with combined total exports of almost €320m.

Enterprise Ireland’s Aviation House at the Dubai Airshow provides an excellent opportunity to celebrate the links between Ireland and the UAE in the aviation sector. In Ireland we have a strong track record of providing first class services and innovations to airlines and aerospace manufacturers across the globe. The Dubai Airshow provides Irish aviation companies with the opportunity to source new partners and grow their presence in the region."

Coinciding with the trade mission, a number of Irish business announcements will be made, including:

Headquartered in Dublin, ByrneLooby the award-winning engineering and project management consultancy, is increasing its footprint in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East. The company opened a new office in Saudi Arabia this year due to the increased demand for its services and announced its plan is to increase its Middle Eastern headcount to over 100 staff. The Irish engineering firm established in Saudi Arabia 11 years ago, opening additional offices in Bahrain, UAE and Qatar.

Dublin based GoCreate Academy have signed a contract with GEMS to provide music and media courses/qualifications for their new online learning platform, TeachMeNow (TMN). This partnership gives TMN access to the GCA network of incredible talent around the world, who can teach and transform up and coming creatives or life-long learners.

Xunsion recently signed an agreement to exclusively develop and supply the latest software for advanced smart home and consumer communications technology to STC (Saudi Telecom Company), the leading telecom service provider, headquartered in Riyadh. Coinciding with the trade mission, Xunison announced they will establish an office in Riyadh within the coming months – marking the company’s first permanent presence in the Middle East.


Notes to Editor

This trade visit and associated events has been organised in line with Irish and local market COVID-19 regulations and travel requirements.