Saudi Arabia campaign brings business boost

New business worth almost £4 million was won by local companies from Invest Northern Ireland’s strategic sales focus on Saudi Arabia in 2008/09.

The success of Northern Ireland companies in one of the world’s most dynamic and demanding markets was announced by Dr Vicky Kell, Invest NI Trade Director, at the start of another major mission to the Saudi business centres of Jeddah and Al Khobar, from 18-26 March.

Twenty nine companies and organisations, including Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Ulster, are taking part in the latest mission, part of an ongoing series of trade activities in the Arabian Gulf region. Tourism Ireland will also be using the mission to explore opportunities to attract tourists from the kingdom.

Dr Kell said: “Invest NI missions have introduced a number of smaller companies to this immense market and several, including Disability Needs of Belfast, have secured their first business there. Others including Quigg Golden, a Belfast specialist in contract resolution in the construction industry, have formed strategic partnerships.  

“Other more established companies such as FG Wilson, the Larne-based manufacturer of diesel generators, had used Invest NI missions to strengthen their market position. Business secured by FG Wilson has included a £750,000 contract to supply generators to customers there.

“Northern Ireland exports to the Middle East, especially the Gulf region including Saudi Arabia, were around £300 million in 2008/09. Goods and services sold there ranged from machinery, food and building products to professional services.  The interest which companies in tradable services are now showing in Saudi and other parts of the Gulf is both significant and immensely encouraging.

“Our focus on developing strong relationships with major contractors such as the Saudi bin Laden Group and Emaar, two of the biggest construction businesses in the Middle East, have proved exceptionally successful and many Northern Ireland companies are now doing business with them, are quoting for contracts or are talking to contacts about opportunities for joint ventures.

“We are aiming to build on this business during 2010/11 by organising probably the biggest-ever Northern Ireland trade focus on the region. Companies will be taking part in a total of 15 business activities there including trade missions and participations in exhibitions such as Arab Health and Gulfood.

“In addition to those offering professional services, our strategic focus on the construction industry there has led to worthwhile business for several companies providing building products.”

Twenty nine companies are on the forthcoming mission – nine of them new to Saudi Arabia.

While the mission will be centred on Jeddah and Al Khobar, participants will also be meeting business contacts in Riyadh. Some will later travel to the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Kuwait.

The group also includes companies representing Northern Ireland’s position as a global centre of excellence in the engineering design and manufacture of mobile screening, sand washing and recycling machinery.

Among the newcomers to the Kingdom are Bubble (NI), a developer of digital software for presentational purposes; Glanbia Cheese, a processor of mozzarella cheese; JCP Consulting, a cost management, mechanical and electrical engineering and project management consultancy; KMC Engineering, a manufacturer of tracked conveyors; Minerva (NI), a security consultancy; SDC Trailers, a manufacturer of freight trailers; and Texam, a manufacturer of conveying systems.