Northern Ireland companies seek business in the Gulf states

Nov 13, 2009

A delegation of 28 business people from Northern Ireland will be in Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates, from 17-25 November, to explore opportunities for trade and joint ventures as part of an Invest Northern Ireland trade mission.

The delegation, organised by Invest Northern Ireland, represents 22 companies from a range of business sectors, particularly construction. The mission is being assisted with market research and lead generation by staff at Invest NI’s Technology and Development Centre in Dubai. The group also includes senior managers from Queen’s University, Belfast.

Several of the companies are visiting the UAE for the first time. The companies will be meeting existing and potential customers in Qatar, Oman and Dubai for discussions about new business opportunities. The mission is the latest, and among the biggest, in a series of visits to the Gulf region organised by Invest NI.

The Gulf has figured regularly in Invest NI’s annual trade development calendar, which also includes Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

As a result of this longstanding engagement, the Gulf is now one of Northern Ireland’s most successful export markets. The extensive and ongoing investment in infrastructure and the development of its tourism and other sectors in Qatar, Oman and Dubai have made it a key market for companies from construction, one of Northern Ireland’s most important industries.

The Northern Ireland group includes seven companies engaged in construction including Patton Group, one of the leading UK contracting and outfitting businesses. Powershield has also provided steel and fire-rated doors to major building projects in the UK, Europe and Gulf region. Boomer Industries supplies plastic extrusions for construction.

Ulster Carpets, a world leader in Axminster carpets, has carpeted leading hotels such as the Burj al Arab and, most recently, the Ritz Carlton both in Dubai. Ulster Carpets is setting up an office and showroom in Dubai, where it has previously used the facilities provides by Invest NI’s Technology and Development Centre at Dubai Internet City.

SRS, Terex Finlay and Anaconda Equipment design, manufacture and supply machinery for materials handling including recycling operations.

As well as contracting and machinery, the group includes companies specialising in services such as contract claims and health and safety systems.

Among companies visiting the Gulf for the first time are Diet Express, a business specialising in nutritional advice for women in particular,  Aremis, specialist consultancy to the construction sector in contract claims, Bubble NI, a developer of software for health and safety operations, Learnit3D, a provider of three-dimensional learning technology, and Kitchenmaster, a suppler of cleaning products.

Dr Vicky Kell, Invest NI’s Trade Director, commenting on the delegation, said: “This is a strong group of mostly experienced exports keen to develop business in the Gulf, a market which is continuing to achieve impressive growth rates. The region is popular with Northern Ireland companies because it is seen as a very good place in which to do business.

“Many of our companies, especially those in construction and related industries, are now firmly established in the Gulf and have actively encouraged others to explore opportunities throughout the country.”

The delegation also includes Dale Farm and Greenfields Ireland, two of the UK’s most successful dairy businesses specialising in a range of products such as cheese, butter and yoghurt as well as commodities including milk powder. Both companies have extensive business throughout the Gulf.

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