Irish exports to Middle East region surpassed €730m in Q1

Palestinian territory received €250,000 in medical and pharmaceutical exports from Ireland in first quarter of 2024.

The value of Irish exports to the Arab world rose by 6% in the first quarter of 2024 to €731m, the Arab Irish Chamber of Commerce (AICC) has reported.

The Arab region is highly reliant on imports and, with a population of nearly 38m, Saudi Arabia has grown to become the largest importer of Irish goods among the Arab states.

“Growing economies, expanding populations, and significant investment in infrastructure, urban growth, tourism and renewable energy have opened up new opportunities for Irish exporters”

The value of goods to the region increased by 4% to €244m during the first three months of the year, compared to the same period in 2023.

“Growing economies, expanding populations, and significant investment in infrastructure, urban growth, tourism and renewable energy have opened up new opportunities for Irish exporters and those looking to do business both in and with countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia,“ said Ahmad Younis, CEO of the AICC. 

“As an Arab living in Ireland for more than 40 years, I have seen how well received and respected Irish businesses are in the Middle East and Gulf, and I can see many similarities between the two cultures, which certainly helps when it comes to doing business.” 

Irish products on Arab shelves

United Arab Emirates (UAE), home to tens of thousands of Irish expats has delivered huge growth for Ireland’s exporters in the first quarter of this year, with the value of goods imported rising 62% to €203m.

“It’s not unusual to visit a supermarket in Dubai and see Irish products such as butter, chocolates and meats on the shelves. Monaghan’s Silverhill Duck for example, has achieved incredible success in the UAE and is one of many Irish food producers looking east for export opportunities,” said Younis.

For almost 40 years, the AICC has been supporting Irish businesses trade with the Arab world.

Every Arab country has its own import rules, documents and levies and the AICC processes all requisite documents, such as certificates of origin, making it easier for Irish businesses to do business

Machinery and equipment, medical and pharma, food and beverages, textiles and footwear are amongst the top products heading east from Irish businesses, including a growing number of SMEs.

Younis said that over the past 15 years, the MENA region has consistently offered Irish businesses of all sizes and across multiple sectors significant trade opportunities. The AICC supports Irish businesses exporting to the Middle East and Gulf region, strengthening links through its collaborations with governments, embassies, and trade organisations.

“With four airline carriers providing direct access to Arab markets and a growing population exceeding 440m, it’s clear why Irish businesses are drawn to this region of immense opportunity,” said Ahmad Younis.

“While entering these markets can seem challenging, excellent support is available from state agencies like Enterprise Ireland and Bord Bia, both of which have a strong local presence. What the AICC can offer is a unique online documentation service that significantly reduces the administrative burden often faced by businesses operating internationally.”

Iraq saw a rise of 16% to €43M, and with a new Iraqi embassy opened in Dublin, this is a clear indication of wanting to build a closer business relationship with Ireland

While Ireland exported just €1,000 worth of products to the occupied State of Palestine in the first quarter of 2023, a quarter of am Euro worth of medical and pharmaceutical products were imported from Ireland in Q1 2024, reflecting the urgent need for medical supplies in the region.

Top performing Arab markets for the period January – March 2024 (v the same period in 2023):

  • Saudi Arabia with the value of exports from Ireland rising 4% to €244m
  • UAE, exports to which rose by 62% to €203m
  • Egypt which saw a rise of 14% to €62.4m
  • Bank of Ireland is welcoming new customers every day – funding investments, working capital and expansions across multiple sectors. To learn more, click here

ThinkBusiness, powered by Bank of Ireland, has been created for Irish business owners and managers who are seeking information, resources and help on a range of business topics. It provides practical, actionable information and guidance on starting, growing and running a business.