Arab-Irish business conference aims to strengthen trade relationships

Some 400 Irish companies already in business with Arab countries

On Wednesday, Ireland will host the inaugural Arab-Irish business conference at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham.

The conference will not only serve to highlight the potential of the Arab market, but will also dispel some of the myths and misconceptions about doing business with Arab states.

"Anecdotally, businesspeople can sometimes get the impression that doing business can be difficult in the Arab market," said Joe Geoghegan, chief executive of the Arab-Irish Chamber, "but in our experience that's not necessarily the case.

“If a company does its research and plans things properly, it can develop very good business relationships in these markets.”


The Arab region – a term that refers to 21 Arab countries stretching from Morocco across to the Middle East – is already a significant market for Ireland in terms of exports. As many as 400 companies based here, both multinationals and indigenous, are already doing business with the Arab market.

Trade levels

In 2014, Irish exports to the region grew by 16 per cent to an estimated €4 billion. “The Arab market is one of the leading regions for Ireland outside of



North America

, ” Geoghegan said, adding that it would be realistic to expect the trade levels achieved in 2014 to rise to €6 billion by 2020.

About 70 per cent of Irish exports to the Arab region go to Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states.

“For most Irish companies, they’re the most attractive countries right now in the Arab world,” he said. “Their industrial and economic development is such that there are many goods and services that we provide that they import.”

They’re also among the most affluent of the Arab countries due to their reserves of oil and gas.

In addition to their increasing affluence, these countries have a growing population, and with that comes a significant rise in consumer demand for all sorts of products and services, from education to food.

And it would appear that this demand is an opportunity ripe for the picking for Irish companies. “Right throughout the Arab world there is a very positive view of Ireland.

“In Arab culture, a lot of emphasis is placed on personal relationships, and we tend to get on very well together. That’s a starting point.”