Fourteen local companies are visiting Oman and Abu Dhabi as part of an Invest NI trade mission to explore trade and other commercial opportunities with companies in the Gulf States, from 29 October to 04 November.
Delegation members represent a broad cross-section of Northern Ireland business and each has a programme of meetings with senior executives from companies in Oman and Abu Dhabi. The visit is the latest in an ongoing programme of trade and technology exchanges with business representatives in Oman and the Emirates organised by Invest NI.
Northern Ireland companies have been visiting Oman and other Gulf markets regularly for more than a decade and as a result, the region has particularly strong Northern Ireland business links in sectors such as oil and gas exploration, construction, emergency and standby power generation equipment, IT and engineering.
Mission members have been assisted by staff at Invest NI’s Technology and Development Centre in Dubai in terms of market research and lead generation.
Most of the delegation members have experience of doing business in Gulf markets and are keen to expand business in Oman and Abu Dhabi.
Dr Vicky Kell, Invest NI Trade Director, commenting on the mission, said: “This is an experienced group of companies representing a very broad cross-section of Northern Ireland business, from engineering to professional services and clothing manufacture.
“Significantly, six of the participating companies are engaged in providing a range of services for various sectors including construction. This reflects the high level of interest in exporting particularly among architectural and civil engineering practices that has been evident over the last 18 months. Opportunities for companies in the service sector continue to grow in most markets across the Middle East.
“Many of the companies are experienced in business procedures in the Gulf and have knowledge of the specific requirements of businesses in Oman and Abu Dhabi. While the economies of Oman and Abu Dhabi still depend on oil and natural gas, both regions are using these earnings to diversify and develop into other growth areas including IT and tourism.
“Oman is diversifying its economy through downstream oil industry development - (petrochemicals and metals) - port and logistics development, fisheries, and a modern and expanded tourism industry, while Abu Dhabi has escaped the severe downturn in property values experienced by neighbouring Dubai and is continuing to invest substantially in upgrading its road and rail infrastructure as part of a strategic approach on attracting more visitors from overseas.
“The mission is the third to the Gulf this year and demonstrates the level of interest and opportunity in this market. A week-long visit by more than 30 local companies to the Saudi Arabian business centres of Riyadh and Jeddah also occurred at the start of this month.”