Irish tour of Gulf to boost e-business relations

An Irish trade organisation is visiting Gulf countries to target opportunities for growth in the region, particularly in the IT sector...

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By  Patrick Phelvin Published  September 25, 2003

An Irish trade organisation is visiting Gulf countries to target opportunities for growth in the region, particularly in the IT sector. Enterprise Ireland has singled out software in banking, process control and automation, telecoms and e-learning as key areas to develop.

The mission, led by Trade and Commerce Minister Michael Ahern, is in the middle of a tour of the Gulf that has already taken in Bahrain and will include the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Enterprise Ireland is also hoping to encourage working relations between Ireland and the Gulf in the education and construction sectors.

The delegation has already met Bahraini Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, as well as a number of government ministers.
“This is the first trade mission from Ireland to Bahrain,” Ahern told a press conference at the Regency Inter-Continental Hotel. “All our meetings were very fruitful. It seems there is a willingness and determination from the government here to join with the government and agencies in Ireland to develop trade between the two countries.”

During the visit, the Minister will perform the official opening of Enterprise Ireland’s regional office in Dubai. This newly-established office supplements Enterprise Ireland’s existing office in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

“The establishment of this office along with the additional resources it provides for Irish companies in the Gulf region is a concrete demonstration of our faith in the potential for enhanced economic cooperation,” says Ahern. “As the economies in the region develop and expand, we plan to ensure that Irish companies are well-positioned to take advantage of the opportunities available.” he adds.

The Bahraini Premier is due to make his own two-day visit to Ireland on October 2, where he will meet Irish President Mary McAleese and Prime Minister Bertie Ahern. They are expected to elaborate on the discussions that have already taken place between the two sides.

“We see Bahrain as a gateway to the Middle East. We also feel we have quite a lot to offer,” says Ahern.

There has been a significant growth in trade between Ireland and the Gulf over the past decade. Irish exports to the region have increased from US$155million in 1991 to US$785million last year.

The Irish trade delegation consists of 18 companies and has met Commerce Minister Ali Saleh Al Saleh, Health Minister Dr Khalil Hassan, Industry Minister Dr Hassan Fakhro and representatives from the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry. It concludes on Sunday.

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