News Conference to spotlight opportunities for Irish businesses in the Arab states

Conference to spotlight opportunities for Irish businesses in the Arab states

  • Irish food & drink exports to the Middle East up 15% (Q1 2023)
  • Significant growth in volumes of Irish cheese, butter & chocolate 
  • Former tourism chief, Niall Gibbons to address conference

6 June 2023: With export opportunities for Irish businesses to the Arab world growing year on year and with export figures reaching a record high in 20221, details of a leading business event for companies looking beyond the EU to grow and expand their businesses were announced today. 

The 2023 Arab-Irish Business Forum will feature speakers from the Arab states alongside business leaders from Ireland who are already doing business there.  The event will take place in the Mansion House in Dublin on Wednesday, 13 September 2023. Hundreds of delegates are expected to attend the fourth of what has become one of the most important events in the calendar for business leaders looking for new export or other international business opportunities.


Details of the conference were announced on the back of the latest figures from Bord Bia, which highlighted 15% growth2 in food and drink exports to the Middle East for Q1 2023 (V same period 2022).  For the first quarter of 2023, more than €86.7million2 worth of Irish food and drinks products departed Ireland for countries across the Middle East with notable increases in:

  • Butter: exports of Irish butter grew by 99% from €1.83M to €3.64M
  • Cheese: rising 115% from €4.68M to €10.07M in Q1 2023 and
  • Irish chocolate, exports of which increased by more than 68% from €706,237 to almost €1.19M

Scale up

Last year Ireland exported1 almost €3 billion worth of goods to the Arab states and the conference will spotlight Irish businesses operating in or exporting to the region, with advice and insight on how Irish businesses can get started or scale up. 

Hosted by journalist and broadcaster, Dearbhail McDonald, the conference will cover a wide range of sectors including food & drink, financial services and fintech, travel and tourism and construction.  It will also feature panel discussions with Irish SMEs on their experience of doing business with the Arab world along with keynote speeches from business leaders from a number of Arab countries.

Speakers will include:

  • Former Tourism Ireland CEO, Niall Gibbons, who is now head of tourism at NEOM, a global development underway in northwest Saudi Arabia backed by a $500 billion investment
  • Financial services and information technology leaders from Bahrain and the UAE 
  • Managing Director of RED MILLS International FZE (animal nutrition) in Dubai, Michael Connolly
  • Suzanne Browne, co-founder and commercial director of ClevaMama, an award-winning Irish baby brand exporting to the Middle East
  • Nick Cole, CEO of DAA International and former MD of Terminal 5, King Khalid International Airport, Riyadh
  • Declan Fearon of Tipperary Crystal and Six Flags Qiddiya, a new destination city in Saudi Arabia based on the pillars of entertainment, sport and culture and which offers multiple opportunities for contractors, suppliers, strategic capital and infrastructure partners