Invest Northern Ireland is encouraging local companies to make use of a new business development facility which can help them access the lucrative Middle East marketplace.

The Northern Ireland Technology and Development Centre (NITDC) in Dubai’s Internet City was officially opened by Bill McGinnis, Invest Northern Ireland Board member, during an Invest NI trade visit to the United Arab Emirates.

The Centre provides a cost effective and fully equipped office location, which is supplemented by tailored business development support for Northern Ireland companies wishing to do business in the Middle East.

Bill McGinnis says: “This facility will help develop the ability of Northern Ireland companies to export to the Middle East marketplace. It allows local companies wanting to start trading in this region to get down to business immediately rather than have to wait for suitable premises to become available. Invest NI support in the NITDC also helps businesses clear the hurdles of trade licences and other formalities that can hold up operations in the Middle East.”

Among the fourteen companies taking part in the trade visit is Belfast software company, Memsis, which during the trade visit announced a partnership with Apple Computer. The partnership will allow Memsis as an ‘Apple Solutions Expert’ to provide hardware, software, training and consultancy services in the Middle East and Europe, on behalf of the prestigious global company.

Says Paul McCoy of Memsis: “We first came into contact with Apple Middle East after taking part in an Invest NI trade mission to the Middle East and then fostered our relationship with them during the GITEX exhibition in Dubai last autumn. The partnership is a reflection of this international company’s belief in our skills and professionalism. We are now hoping to build on this by setting up a presence in the NITDC.”

Two other companies on the trade mission are to take space in the Dubai NITDC to help them develop their business in the area. Carrickfergus based wireless marketing company Sugarcube, which recently signed contracts with major global companies including Nokia and Siemens, is planning to use their presence in the region to expand their customer base.

Fayrefield Foods Ireland Ltd, a Belfast based international dairy trading company, has been trading in the Middle East for several years and has recently been operating out of the NITDC in Dubai. The company has found the facilities and support provided in the Centre so beneficial to its export activities that it has decided to expand its presence there.

The trade visit runs for a week during which time companies will visit the NITDC in Dubai Internet City and travel to various other regions in the Middle East.

The NITDC is located within the free-zone of Dubai Internet City. A wide range of facilities and services are available for resident companies, and the Centre is also open to Northern Ireland companies as day visitors while doing business in the Middle East region. In addition, the NITDC’s Trade Adviser, Michael Craig, will also be pleased to assist those NI companies who wish to do some market research in advance of venturing into the Middle East market.
Companies participating in the Invest NI trade visit to the United Arab Emirates are:

Abbey Training Services, Glengormley
Cordiners Kitchens & Bedrooms Ltd, Bangor
Fayrefield Foods Ireland, Belfast
FG Wilson (Engineering) Ltd, Larne
Growmoor Horticulture Ltd, Dungannon
Hughes Christensen, Belfast
Legend International, Belfast
Liddell Limited, Ballymena
Memsis, Belfast
Mivan Limited, Antrim
Phoenix Picture Frames Ltd, Enniskillen
Sugarcube, Carrickfergus
TR Shipping Services, Belfast
Ulster Carpet Mills, Portadown