The tallest building in the world, a dancing water fountain and the best hummus ever tasted….….just a few highlights from MD Malachy's recent trade mission to Dubai, supported by Scottish Development International and Scottish Enterprise.
Renowned for being an international hub for global commerce, due to its strategic location between Europe, Asia and Africa, Dubai is also a hotbed of innovation in technology and culture. With economic growth forecast, and substantial investment in infrastructure, transport real estate and solar energy, it is a natural market for a growing engineering business like AWD to explore.
From our previous market visit to Dublin, we knew that tremendous support and expertise was available to companies who have an interest in developing a growth strategy in export markets. In preparation for our trip, we received 1-2-1 consultations with specialists to prepare an action plan in line with our business objectives and to highlight key areas to consider when implementing our export strategy, such as routes to market and legal and technical support.
"I arrived in Dubai the day before the official start of the mission to meet up with existing clients and scope out some additional business opportunities, as well as to fit in a bit of sightseeing", said Malachy. "After productive meetings with a local scaffold supplier and a visit with our client Multiplex to our ICB Brookfield site, I scaled 124 floors of the Burj Khalifa to take in the impressive views on the observation deck of the world’s tallest building – an amazing experience, and worth the 8-hour plane ride alone!"
There was a meet and greet session with the mission team to mark the start of the visit, where Richard Thompson, Editorial Director at MEED, gave a very insightful overview of the financial and economic climate in the Middle East. We also heard from commercial real estate expert Alan Robertson, CEO of JLL who gave sage advice about implementing a growth strategy in the region.
Most of our timetable was filled with meeting potential clients and speaking to industry experts in the area to gather invaluable advice. In Dubai, the preferred method of doing business is face-to-face, which is a perfect fit for AWD’s values led working style, helping to inspire trust and confidence in our potential new clients. These face to face meetings were also an excellent opportunity to showcase our expertise and help us stand out from the crowd in a competitive market.
SDI also organised a cultural awareness lunch for us, to give us a better understanding of traditional customs in the Middle East. Malachy said, "These customs heavily influence business methods and is important to be respectful and understanding of this to operate effectively in this market. It was also a great opportunity to try the delicious fusion of middle eastern food available in Dubai, and yes, the best hummus in the world…. according to my tastebuds!"
One particular highlight of the trip was the Big 5 Construction event – a room filled with hundreds of construction experts, and a fantastic opportunity to introduce AWD to many engineering professionals all gathered in one room. Another was the Department of International Trade’s ‘Meet the Buyer’ event which was especially fruitful for making key contacts including procurement directors, local contractors, civil engineers, and temporary works designers. Both these events emphasised the scale of the growth opportunities available.
The key event of the week was the Big 5 Networking event held at the British Embassy in Dubai, a fantastic networking opportunity and a chance to catch up with key contacts made earlier in the week and reinforce those relationships before returning to the UK.
Overall, the experience has proved very insightful and has allowed us to make vital business contacts to implement our growth strategy in Dubai. We have already planned a follow up visit to further strengthen the business relationships formed during the trade mission and to increase our presence in the Dubai market.