Opportunities for Irish Exporters in the Gulf States
A hotbed for entrepreneurship, the Gulf area has become one of the leading business destinations in the world today. With an abundance of opportunities for Irish exporters, the Gulf area is an umbrella term encompassing the Arab states that border the Persian Gulf, namely Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates (UAE). These countries make up the economic and political block of the Gulf Cooperation Council.
For export-focused Irish companies, the Gulf states represent a significant market opportunity since it is a region that is heavily reliant on imports and has major ambitions for infrastructural development.
In fact, according to reports, 80-90% of food consumed in the Gulf region is imported. The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) predicts that food imports by the Gulf States will reach US$53.1 billion by 2020, double the value in 2010 (US$25.8 billion). The Irish food and drink industry are also expected to double exports to the Middle East by 2020.
In 2017, then-deputy prime minister of Ireland Frances Fitzgerald also said in an interview that the country is looking to aviation, fintech, and food industries to drive up to 40% increase in exports to UAE, amounting of up to €2 billion (Dh8.61bn) by 2020.
To succeed as an Irish exporter in the Gulf region, you must understand your market and the suitability of what you are offering to that market. To start, we compiled on this post some facts and figures on the six states that make up the Gulf region to help you learn what the region has to offer your export business.
- Saudi Arabia
- Population: 32.27 million
- Nominal GDP: $646.4 billion
- Nominal GDP per Capita: $20,028
- Capital: Riyadh
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is the largest economy in the Arab world – accounting for 25% of the Arab world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The Kingdom also possesses around 25% of the world’s total oil reserves and plays a key role in Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). The World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranked Saudi Arabia at 92nd place.
Saudi Arabia ranked as the 28th largest importer in 2015 and imported well over $167 billion during the same year. It presents great export opportunities for Irish companies since it’s fastest-growing imports are machines and equipment – representing 25% of its total imports. It is followed by transportation (cars and aircraft parts), metals, and chemical products.
- Population: 4.20 million
- Nominal GDP: $110.8 billion
- Nominal GDP per Capita: $25,140
- Capital: Kuwait City
A nation with an economy that heavily relies on oil, Kuwait accounts for 6% of the world’s proven oil reserves. It is the 7th richest country in the world, according to International Monetary Fund’s October 2017 GDP per capita data.
In 2015 Kuwait imported $33.3 billion, making it the 59th largest importer in the world. Its fastest-growing imports are machines and equipment which represents 22% of its total imports. It is followed by transportation, metals, and chemical products.
- Population: 1.57 million
- Nominal GDP: $32.179 billion
- Nominal GDP per Capita: $22,354
- Capital: Manama
Though small in size, Bahrain has a thriving economy. In fact, it ranked 66th in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business report. The country also has the most liberalized economy in the GCC. The 2015 Index of Economic Freedom also ranked Bahrain as having the freest economy in the Middle East and 18th freest in the world.
In 2016 Bahrain exported $12.6 billion, making it the 60th largest exporter in the world. The most recent exports are led by mineral products (refined petroleum and crude petroleum) which represents 54% of its total exports. Metals follow it at 19%, and machines and equipment at 6.9%.
- Population: 2.57 million
- Nominal GDP: $156.45 billion
- Nominal GDP per Capita: $59,330
- Capital: Doha
Qatar is a relatively small country, but one of the richest in the world with a very high Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per head. This affluent market with its growing population offers opportunities for Irish exporters across a wide range of sectors.
In 2016 Qatar imported $31.9 billion, making it the 49th largest importer in the world. Its fastest-growing imports are machines and equipment which represents 27% of its total imports, followed by transportation at 18%, and metals at 9.6%.
- United Arab Emirates
- Population: 9.48 million
- Nominal GDP: $348.7 billion
- Nominal GDP per Capita: $37,622
- Capital: Abu Dhabi
The UAE has diversified its economy away from oil. Tourism is one of the bigger non-oil sources of revenue in the UAE, with some of the world’s most luxurious hotels being based in the UAE. Non-oil sectors now contribute about 70% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It is the second largest Arab economy after Saudi Arabia and 30th largest globally with the 18th highest GDP per capita (USD 44,200) rate.
In 2016 the United Arab Emirates imported $184 billion, making it the 20th largest importer in the world. The most recent imports are led by precious metals (gold, jewelry, diamonds) which represents 28% of its total imports. It is followed by machines and equipment at 21%, and transportation at 16%.
- Population: 4.7 million
- Nominal GDP: $66.29 billion
- Nominal GDP per Capita: $15,139
- Capital: Muscat
Oman is the second largest state in the Arabian Peninsula and is a founding member of GCC. It ranked 71st in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business.
In 2016 Oman imported $20.6 billion, making it the 55th largest importer in the world. The most recent imports are led by machines and equipment, which accounts for 24% of its total imports, followed by metals at 15%, and mineral products at 14%.
To learn how we at Alba Consulting can help you to formulate and implement strategies to bring your business onto the global stage, contact us today at +353 1 415 1252 or email us at email@example.com