Invest Northern Ireland is to increase its presence in the Middle East with a new Regional Manager to be based in Doha, Qatar.
The announcement comes as Invest NI Chief Executive Alastair Hamilton visited the country to meet the UK Ambassador to Qatar, Mr Ajay Sharma, and the Department for International Trade team.
Mr Hamilton said: “This new post in Qatar will strengthen the support we already offer in the IMEA region through our offices in Dubai and Jeddah. The new Regional Manager will have a specific focus on Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Iran where we see real potential for Northern Ireland companies to grow their exports.
“Northern Ireland has developed a global reputation in sectors such as engineering and manufacturing, life and health sciences, plus food and drink. We believe there will be significant future export opportunities given the large-scale construction projects planned in the region, including the Qatar World Cup in 2022.”
The new Regional Manager will be based at the British Embassy and is hoped to be in post at the beginning of April.
“The primary objective of the new post will be to build a network of stakeholders to support trade development,” continued Alastair. “They will help us support companies interested in doing business in the region and seek investment opportunities in our key sectors. Helping Northern Ireland’s leading universities and Further Education colleges to recruit high quality students and promote Northern Ireland education services as an export will also be a focus.”
In the year up to December 2016, Northern Ireland companies directly exported goods to the value of almost £29M to Qatar. Machinery and transport equipment accounted for the majority of this, at almost £16M.
Companies such as Mallaghan Engineering, Dungannon; Armstrong Medical, Coleraine, and CDE from Cookstown are already successfully exporting to Qatar.
To further develop strong links with the region, Invest NI is assisting a number of Northern Ireland companies to attend the Qatar-UK Business and Investment Forum taking place in Birmingham on 28 March 2017, to showcase Northern Ireland trade and investment strengths.