Sixteen local companies and the University of Ulster are being assisted by Invest Northern Ireland to take part in the Enterprise Ireland trade mission to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates led by Bertie Ahern, the Irish Prime Minister.
The Northern Ireland companies will be part of a 120 strong delegation of ministers, officials, businesses and education institutes from the Republic visiting Jeddah, Riyadh, the Saudi capital, and Dubai from 14-19 January. The Northern Ireland companies will also visit Qatar on a separate Invest NI mission from 21-23 January.
Last year 14 Northern Ireland companies joined an Enterprise Ireland mission, again led by Mr Ahern, to key business centres in India.
The Northern Ireland group, which will be led by Tracy Meharg, Invest NI’s Managing Director of Innovation and Capability Development, includes a number of companies with significant business in the Gulf region including Mivan, FG Wilson, Mallaghan, Fayrefield Foods, CDE Ireland and Liddell Linens.
The companies will be taking part in a programme of business meetings organised by Enterprise Ireland, as well as meeting their own contacts in the market. They are also being assisted by commercial staff at the British Diplomatic Posts in Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and Qatar.
Tracy Meharg, commenting on the latest mission, said: “This mission is part of a longstanding relationship which we have with Enterprise Ireland to help our companies develop their exports in key markets such as the US, India and the Middle East.
“As was the case last year in India, our companies will benefit from being part of such a high profile and widely publicised diplomatic initiative in the Gulf, a region with enormous business potential. We have considerable knowledge of and expertise in the Gulf as a result of a decision taken in the early nineties to focus resources in the area.
“For instance, Northern Ireland was the first region from the British Isles to establish a trade development centre in Dubai. This has since been expanded to become a Technology and Development Centre.
“Several companies on this mission, including Fayrefield Foods, Mivan, MWM Sports, Powershield Doors and Rutledge Joblink Recruitment, are benefiting from the access the centre provides to expert staff and serviced offices.
“Over the past two years, the centre has helped Northern Ireland companies based there to secure new business worth around £100 million in markets such as the Emirates and Qatar,” she added.