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The GCC has high vaccination rates. In particular, the UAE has led the world with its vaccination rates and the UAE government reports 100 per cent of its population have received one dose and 92 per cent have received two does at the end of 2021.
Important steps are being made towards resuming travel and supporting the services sector. The Victorian Government’s International Student Arrivals Plan helped welcome students back to Victoria in December 2021.
The Australian Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai will continue to be a hive of activity into the first half of 2022 and a unique opportunity for Victorian companies to connect in the region.
There is a regular program of weekly events that is updated on the Australia Pavilion site. As the only Platinum partner of the Australian Pavilion, Global Victoria is planning business events in February and March 2022.
The International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) 2021, one of Australia’s largest mining events, will take place from 31 January – 2 February 2022. The hybrid event will welcome Australian attendees in-person in Melbourne, and international attendees from more than 130 countries via an online platform.
Arab Health 2022 is scheduled for 24-27 Jan 2022. The leading digital and events platform in the healthcare sector in the MENA region provides opportunities for Victorian companies to connect with international exhibitors.
Gulfood 2022 is scheduled for 13-17 February 2022. Gulfood is one of the largest food and beverage trade expos in the world. The DFAT Expo team is planning engagements to leverage Gulfood. Several Victorian companies will be showcasing their products.
The International Women's Day High Tea 2022 in Melbourne is scheduled for 7 March 2022. The event is supported by both the Australia Arab Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Australia Africa Chamber of Commerce, along with the other bilateral chambers at Global Victoria’s International Chamber House. It will provide valuable networking opportunities for attendees.
Mining INDABA 2022, one of the major Africa mining conferences of interest to METs companies expanding to Africa, is scheduled for 9-12 May 2022. Austrade is planning to take an Australian delegation.
The Australia Arab Chamber of Commerce and Global Victoria as part of the Global Victoria Trade Alliance are planning export seminars across regional Victoria in 2022 for exporters look to enter the region or enhance their existing presence in-market. Dates and locations will be announced in 2022.
IMF’s predictions for the Middle East and North Africa’s (MENA) economic growth in 2022
The IMF predicts a positive economic outlook for MENA in 2022.
The economic outlook for MENA in 2022 was recently raised by the IMF to 4.1 per cent due to the fast vaccine rollout in some parts of the region and the economic stimulus policies implemented from the beginning of the pandemic.
The IMF forecasts stable economic grow for the UAE (3 per cent), Saudi Arabia (4.8 per cent) GCC (4.1 per cent) in 2022. However, economic recovery from the pandemic will be divergent across the region as some countries are experiencing challenges with their economies and vaccine rollouts.
New team members join the Dubai VGTI office
Global Victoria is delighted to welcome Emma Page and Lamia Damerje (pictured below) to the VGTI Dubai team.
Emma Page, Agriculture Export Director, and Lamia Damerje, Regional Business Development Manager, have hit the ground running providing expert advice to Victorian exporters looking to enter markets across the Middle East and Africa region.
Emma is an in-market specialist supporting Victorian agribusinesses to respond to the strong demand for high quality food and beverage products coming from the MENA market. Emma’s appointment forms part of the $5 million Pathways to Export Program.
As Regional Business Development Manager, Lamia is responsible for supporting Victorian professional services providers and Middle East and African partners to maximise opportunities in the healthcare, mining and METS and tech sectors including digital health, medtech, sports-tech, cybersecurity and eCommerce.
Global Victoria Trade Alliance
The Global Victoria Trade Alliance (GVTA) is supporting exporters to explore markets in the Middle East and Africa. Part of the Victorian Government’s $15.7 million Export Recovery Package, the $4.7 million-dollar Global Victoria Trade Alliance program has been designed to help Victorian exporters adapt their export strategies to respond to rapidly changing global market conditions.
Global Victoria is partnering with both the Australia Africa Chamber Commerce (AACC) and the Australia Arab Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AACCI) to deliver programs targeted at building the capacity and capability of Victorian exporters across multiple sectors to export to the Middle East and Africa.
The ACCC is working, in partnership with Global Victoria, to deliver a12-month Africa METS Accelerator Program to connect Victorian METS exporters with mining companies operating in Africa’s most active resource-based economies, including South Africa, Botswana, and Ghana.
The AACCI, in partnership with Global Victoria, has designed a seminar series aimed at raising awareness of the many opportunities for Victorian exporters in the Middle East and North Africa to be held in regional centres across Victoria. Expert guest speakers cover a range of topics integral to trade with the MENA region including:
- the latest market insights from on the ground in Dubai
- the importance of cross-cultural awareness for positive business outcomes
- current and post-COVID freight and supply chain settings
- compliance with export document regulations
- requirements of halal certification
- providing connections to key organisations to assist companies on their export journey.
Winter 2021 Update
Victorian companies across key sectors continue to perform well in the Middle East, Africa and Turkey (MEA) region.
As economic recovery across the region continues to gain pace the Victorian Government Trade and Investment Office (VGTI) in Dubai is focused on promoting Victorian capabilities in key sectors such as food and beverage and education technology (EdTech).
Demand remains strong for Victorian food products across the region and in key markets such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait and Qatar where retail imports are growing. Following the success of some Victorian EdTech companies in the region in 2020, the VGTI Dubai continues to promote Victoria’s leading capability in this sector and is also pursuing research partnerships.
Victorian businesses are encouraged to continue to assess their sector, pursue targeted market entry strategies and contact Global Victoria to understand how we may be able to assist.
Business success stories
- T2 Tea is the latest Victorian premium food and beverage brand to be launched at Jones the Grocer in the UAE.
- 13 Victorian businesses have been awarded a Global Gateway grant to expand their business into the MEA region.
- Over 40 Victorian companies have been showcased at various events hosted by the VGTI Dubai over the last six months.
- Victorian furniture manufacturer Schiavello has been chosen as the furniture supplier for the new Palace of Justice in Kuwait, the largest judicial building in the Middle East. Schiavello will supply over 1000 pieces of furniture including workstations, meeting tables, storage and bespoke joinery units for the project.
Innovative promotions showcase the best of Victorian food and beverage to the MEA region
The VGTI Dubai has partnered with Meat and Livestock Australia and Gates Hospitality Dubai to launch the ‘Taste the Flavour of Victoria, Australia’ campaign across five restaurants in Dubai. For the month of June an exclusive menu showcasing premium Victorian beef and lamb will be served at restaurants owned by Gates Hospitality Dubai. The menus were developed by renowned Melbourne chef Guy Grossi, one of Australia’s most respected masters of Italian food.
Building on the two successful webinars hosted by the Dubai VGTI in 2020 introducing Victorian companies to major eCommerce players in the region, Amazon MENA and Noon.com, Global Victoria is now promoting premium Victorian food products on two major regional supermarket online stores.
From June to November this year, 14 Victorian food companies will be featured in advertising campaigns on the Jones the Grocer and Choithrams supermarket online platforms as well as on social media. The aim of the promotion is to increase brand awareness among UAE consumers and drive sales in an increasingly competitive food and beverage market.
Showcasing Victorian EdTech capability to the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Oman and building research partnerships between Victoria and the UAE
In May, the Dubai VGTI delivered a virtual Victorian EdTech trade mission to the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Oman, showcasing 14 Victorian companies.
More than 380 unique attendees from Saudi Arabia, Oman and the UAE joined the event over the two day program, which featured six panel sessions with speakers from the region, fireside chats with EduGrowth (Australia’s peak body for EdTech) and a roundtable with government representatives, including the UAE Undersecretary for the Minister for Education.
In June, Global Victoria hosted the UAE Victoria Research Commercialisation Forum, held in Dubai and Melbourne. The one-day event was targeted towards senior healthcare leaders and professionals, private sector companies, research organisations, academics and university executives based in the UAE and Victoria and aimed to develop strategic research, technology development and commercialisation partnerships.
The sessions and panel discussions covered topics such as digital health, regenerative medicine (stem cell research), new COVID-19 solutions and technology development and commercialisation.
Global Gateway helps 13 Victorian businesses enter markets across the Middle East, Africa, Turkey
Through the Global Gateway Program, 13 businesses were awarded a grant to expand their business to markets in the Middle East, Africa regions.
The grant recipients stem from a diverse range of sectors, including mining and manufacturing, ICT, construction, and food and beverage:
- DGIT Systems – ICT
- Pacific Materials – Construction
- Fuelco – Mining
- Coolon – Manufacturing
- Frew Foods International – Food and beverage
- Chisholm Institute – Education and training
- Ramler International Trust – Professional, scientific and tech services
- Future Fibre Technologies – ICT
- Vetassess – Education and training
- Elenium Automation – ICT
- Shamrock Consulting – Construction
- Octtava Estate – Food and beverage
- Gekko Systems – Mining
The Global Victoria team in Dubai and Melbourne are looking forward to working with these companies to realise their ambitions in MEA.
Commonwealth Government extends International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM) supported flights to end of October 2021
Recognising the importance of maintaining an air bridge between Victoria and the Middle East region, Austrade recently announced an extension to supported flights on the Melbourne to Abu Dhabi route flown by Etihad airlines.
This extension confirms freight capacity to Abu Dhabi and provides Victorian businesses with some certainty they will be able to get their goods to market across the MEA region through the winter season. The supported flights will leave Melbourne Airport twice week until the end of October 2021.
Find out more about the IFAM supported flights from Melbourne to Abu Dhabi and stay up to date with IFAM news by visiting Austrade's website.
Expo 2020 Dubai
Expo 2020 Dubai will begin in October 2021, after being postponed last year. Victoria is the only platinum sponsor of the Australian Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, and Global Victoria is working with the Federal Government to develop an impactful program of events for Victorian businesses.
As we begin 2021, there is a confident outlook that business with the Middle East, Africa and Turkey (MEA) will continue to improve.
Victorian businesses maintained strong connections with partners across the region in 2020 and achieved outcomes in areas where Victoria maintains its competitive strengths including in food and fibre and education.
While challenges remain ahead, opportunities will continue to grow in 2021 in premium food, mining and METS, education and eCommerce. Victorian businesses are encouraged to continue to assess their sector, pursue targeted market entry strategies.
Opportunities in 2021 for Victorian exporters in the MEA region
Emerging opportunities for Victorian exporters in the MEA region cover a range of sectors that include food and fibre, mining and METS, online learning and eCommerce:
- One of the largest opportunities for existing and new exporters to the region is in eCommerce. The rapid uptake of eCommerce platforms in the region over the last 12 months means it is now easier for Victorian retail, health and beauty, and food and beverage brands to get their products to market.
- Demand for food and fibre products, including commodities and premium food products, remains strong across the region. Saudi Arabia is liberalising its barley market and this presents a major opportunity for Victorian barley exporters.
- Opportunities for mining and METS companies exist across the region, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, and Saudi Arabia as the Saudi Government is investing heavily in its burgeoning mining industry.
- Demand for online learning tools will remain strong in 2021, especially in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). With changes to demographics in GCC nations, vocational and graduate training as well as skills assessment will be needed to upskill nationals.
- Demand for health technologies has surged across the MEA region, particularly in the GCC, where opportunities exist for AI and cutting-edge healthcare technology, that can assist local governments to reduce costs and optimise healthcare operations.
Victorian food and beverage companies continue to experience great outcomes exporting to the Middle East and North Africa
In an example of Victorian food and fibre export success, artisan food producers Mount Zero Olives and Asterisk Kitchen secured contracts to begin supplying their products to Jones the Grocer, a gourmet food emporium with 15 stores in the UAE.
Melbourne’s famous coffee culture was on display at a coffee diplomacy event run by the Victorian Government Trade and Investment (VGTI) Dubai office for United Arab Emirates (UAE) business people and alumni of Victorian universities.
Melbourne coffee company, St Ali joined with a local UAE barista to showcase coffees with beans roasted in Melbourne, using Victorian milk. This event was a great chance to discuss business opportunities and grow Victoria’s and the UAE’s coffee connections.
To help maintain market share amid air freight disruptions in 2020, Global Victoria supported Victorian food and fibre exporters to access the Federal Government’s International Freight Assistance Mechanism, an emergency measure that provided funding to help keep international freight routes and flights operating into and out of Australia, to help keep Victorian goods flowing to the region.
Victorian EdTech and education providers are well placed to respond to the strong demand for online educational tools across the Middle East
Through discussions with Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), the VGTI Dubai was successful in approving four Victorian EdTech companies (Curio, TALi Health, Mindsets and Cool Australia) and promoting their capabilities on the KHDA’s online learning portal. In addition to these companies, Geelong Grammar School’s Institute of Positive Education has also been included on the KHDA online learning portal. Geelong Grammar has been providing remote learning wellbeing resources for schools in the UAE.
The year 2020 saw the demographics of GCC nations change and the rise of governments hiring more UAE citizens to perform more traditional roles held by international workers. In the medium to long-term, this will bring opportunities for Victorian providers to assist with up-skilling or re-skilling nationals under such initiatives as the UAE’s National Capacity building Strategy for Sustainable Development.
Victorian businesses experience success as they enter the Middle East eCommerce market
- In September 2020, Global Victoria ran a webinar with Amazon MENA to explore listing options for Victorian businesses to access eCommerce opportunities.
- In October 2020, Global Victoria partnered with Austrade to run a similar webinar with Noon, the second largest eCommerce platform in the region.
These activities are opening doors for Victorian businesses in the retail, food and beverage, fashion, and health and wellness sectors to begin exporting to the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
eCommerce sales boomed across the region in 2020, growing by 36 per cent in the UAE and 20 per cent in Saudi Arabia alone. It is anticipated that online shopping habits developed during 2020 will continue into 2021 as citizens and residents of the UAE and Saudi Arabia become accustomed to the convenience and safety of online shopping.
The growth of these opportunities allows Victorian businesses to easily enter markets in the Middle East and utilise the logistics infrastructure provided by the eCommerce platforms.
The Victorian Government's Export Recovery Package will support business engagement with the region in 2021.
On 13 September 2020, the Victorian Government announced the $15.7 million Export Recovery Package (ERP) to address logistics and supply chain issues caused by the pandemic and establish new export channels.
As part of the ERP, businesses will be connected to international markets through virtual trade missions.
To ensure Victorian companies have the insights they need to begin or expand their operations in the Middle East, Africa and Turkey region, the VGTI Dubai is planning a range of activities across the key industry sectors of:
- food and fibre
Expo 2020 Dubai
Expo 2020 Dubai will also begin in October 2021, after being postponed last year. Victoria is the only platinum sponsor of the Australian Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, and Global Victoria is working with the Federal Government to develop an impactful program of events for Victorian businesses.
Additional market insights
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has released its 2021 Market Insights, which provides exporters with detailed analysis of business conditions and opportunities in a number of countries in the Middle East and Africa. Whether you’re an experienced exporter or are just getting started on your export journey, these insights are a quick and easy way to understand markets you’re interested in.
As announced by the Minister for Jobs, Innovation and Trade Martin Pakula in June 2019, Victoria is a Major Partner with Australia for World Expo 2021 in Dubai. This provides a unique opportunity to showcase the best of Victorian research, innovation and creativity to international audiences.
The Expo will take place over 173 days (20 October 2020 – 10 April 2021), include 193 country pavilions and is expected to generate over 25 million visits. Victoria’s involvement will include leading delegations to relevant trade shows and fairs that coincide with the expo, as well as opportunities to be involved in Australia’s cultural program.
Several Victorian businesses have already been engaged by the Expo 2020 organisers to deliver projects:
- GHD has been engaged to design the fire, ambulance and police facility
- Woods Bagot is the infrastructure design consultant for the Conference and Exhibition Centre Campus
- Cox Architects is the design consultant for the Opportunity Pavilion
- Aconex will design the IT Document Management System
- Rosterfy won the contract to provide an event workforce management solution platform, to support Expo 2020 employees and volunteers.
Victorian companies have also been engaged to by DFAT to work on the Australian Pavilion:
- Icon/Acorn Alliance will deliver the marketing and communications strategy for Australia’s presence at Expo
- Schiavello will be the official furniture supplier for the Australian Pavilion
- Melbourne-based event management company IVG has partnered with Thinkwell Group to form TVG, which will operate the Australian Pavilion for the six months of Expo.
Victoria punches above its weight in food exports to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)
Victoria is the largest agriculture producer in Australia and MENA and Turkey are important markets for our food exports. In 2018, Victorian businesses supplied $1 billion worth of food products to the region. The products exported range from meat, sheep meat and beef, cheese and other dairy products, grains and pulses, vegetables, fruits and nuts and prepared foods. Sheep meat, predominantly lamb, accounts for 55 per cent of all Victorian exports to the region (valued at A$555 million). In each of the top 10 MENA sheep meat markets, Victoria has over 50 per cent share, with one, Iran, at over 86 per cent.
Increase in UAE education infrastructure spending presents opportunities for Victoria
The Victorian Government Trade and Investment Office (VGTI) in Dubai is observing an increase in United Arab Emirates (UAE) government spending on research and development with international partners. In 2018 the education sector received Dh10.4bn (US$2.8bn) from the federal budget to help build better infrastructure and improve research facilities. The VGTI is exploring the opportunities this is creating Victorian universities.
UAE expands list of taxable products
The UAE Cabinet has announced an expansion of the excise taxable products to include sweetened beverages and electronic smoking devices starting on 1 January 2020.A tax of 50 per cent will be levied on any product with added sugar or other sweeteners including beverages, liquids, concentrates, powders, extracts or any product that may be converted to a drink. Beverages exempt from this new tax include ready-to-drink beverages that
- contain at least 75 per cent milk or milk substitutes
- are consumed for special dietary needs
- are consumed for medical use and
- baby formula or food
Electronic smoking devices and the liquids used in them will attract a tax of 100 per cent, whether they contain nicotine or tobacco or not. The UAE Government states that this decision aims to reduce the consumption of products that are harmful to human health and the environment.
New opportunities for connection between Victoria and Israel in biomed and fintech
The Minister for Priority Precincts, Gavin Jennings announced that an Israel liaison officer will be based at Parkville’s Biomedical Precinct as part of a grant between the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions and Melbourne University. The liaison officer will work across Victoria’s entire biomedical sector, including other universities, research institutes and industry to support research collaboration and commercialisation opportunities within the Victorian and Israeli biomedical sectors.
In late June 2019, the Young Australia Israel Chamber of Commerce ran a fintech trade mission for a group of emerging leaders from Australia. The delegation was led by Charlotte Petris, co-founder and CEO of Victorian based company Timelio, Australia’s leading invoice and supply chain finance platform. Charlotte is also a member of the Australian Government’s FinTech Advisory Board. Throughout the mission delegates had the opportunity to connect and collaborate with young Israeli entrepreneurs and learn about new technologies and innovations coming out of Israel including blockchain, cryptocurrency, cyber security and payment fraud and more.
The Australian Government responds to events in the Strait of Hormuz
Tensions have heightened in the Strait of Hormuz, an important shipping lane for crude oil. In response, the US and UK have bolstered their naval presence in the region. In August 2019, the Prime Minister announced that Australia will be joining the US led coalition in the Persian Gulf on a six-month mission.
The events have not substantially impacted Victoria’s trade in the region at this stage. The Dubai VGTI will continue to work with DFAT to monitor the situation.
In-Market Insights Video Series 2020
In-Market Insights is a series of videos presented by our team from across Global Victoria's international network of 23 Trade and Investment offices (VGTIs). The series sheds light on the current state of play in key global markets and sectors.
MIDDLE EAST, AFRICA AND TURKEY: Education - August 2020
Episode 15 of In-Market Insights features Global Victoria’s Baris Satar - Senior Education Services Manager from the Victorian Government Trade and Investment (VGTI) office in Dubai. Baris shares insights on emerging opportunities in the Middle East, Africa and Turkey for Victorian education providers looking to engage with the region.
VIDEO: Global Victoria's In-market Insights - MIDDLE EAST, AFRICA AND TURKEY - Education August 2020
MIDDLE EAST, AFRICA AND TURKEY June 2020
Episode five features Global Victoria’s General Manager, Kassem Younes from our VGTI office in Dubai, UAE.Kassem shares his expert knowledge on the emerging opportunities in the MENA region for Victorian businesses.
VIDEO: Global Victoria's In-market Insights - MIDDLE EAST, AFRICA AND TURKEY June 2020
Serious about exporting?
Whether you’re a Victorian business looking at entering new markets, expanding into additional markets, or taking on more challenging high-growth markets, our free online self-assessment tool, Go Global will show you how to get there.
Through a series of export-focused questions, Go Global works by measuring your business’s capability and capacity in nine key areas. Nominate yourself and up to five key stakeholders from your business to take part in the self-assessment to receive a holistic overview of your business's export-readiness.
Once all nominees have completed their self-assessments, you'll receive a comprehensive report highlighting your business's strengths and capabilties, and recommended next steps to help you go global.
Go Global is a useful tool for the development or refinement of your market entry strategy:
- Identifying strengths
- Identify gaps in capabilities
- Recommending the next steps to bridge those gaps and support your export journey.