Summer 2021 Update

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 Russia, 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

The VGTI Dubai has established relationships with Amazon MENA and Noon to help Victorian companies register their products on these large eCommerce platforms.

  • 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
  • mining
  • METS
  • education.

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.

Looking to do business with MEA?

If you're a Victorian business exploring opportunities in the Middle East, Africa and Turkey markets, contact our regional specialist, Madelaine Sexton to find out how Global Victoria can help your export journey.

In-Market Insights

In-Market Insights is a series of videos presented by our team from across Global Victoria's international network of 22 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


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.

Register for the Go Global self-assessment

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