Winter 2020 Update

Throughout the Northern Hemisphere summer, countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region have been slowly beginning to emerge from a shutdown period.

In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the two largest emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi have largely lifted movement restrictions and economic activities have resumed. Saudi Arabia is also easing movement restrictions and resumed some economic activities in all regions except Mecca.

Visit our Responding to coronavirus page for information about support for Victorian and Federal Government support for businesses impacted by cornoavirus,

Success stories

  • Victorian artisan food producers Mount Zero and Asterik Kitchen have begun supplying their products to Jones the Grocer, a gourmet food emporium with 15 stores in the UAE.
  • Global Victoria’s trade mission to Gulfood 2020 in Dubai in February 2020 helped grow food exports to the Middle East region.
  • Victorian Government Trade and Investment office (VGTI) team in Dubai have taken part in Global Victoria’s In-Market Insights video series.
  • Global Victoria has been assisting Victorian exporters to take advantage of the Australian Government’s International Freight Assistance Mechanism to help ensure the supply of Victorian products into key MENA markets.
  • The VGTI team together with Amazon MENA hosted a webinar in September 2020 on how Victorian exporters can sell their products on Amazon’s new UAE marketplace and take advantage of the surge of interest in eCommerce in the country.

In-Market Insights Video Series

Catch the latest updates of the region from our General Manager, Kassem Younes and Senior Education Services Manager, Baris Satar's by watching our video series, In-Market Insights.

The impact of Coronavirus is being felt across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), but signs of hope are emerging

The MENA region, like all other regions around the world, is feeling the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, with economic shutdowns and movement restrictions coming into force across the region in the first half of 2020.  Turkey and Iran have reported the highest number of cases in the region, with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar also reporting a high amount of cases.

Emirates Airlines and Etihad Airways both grounded their fleets in March and April 2020, however, both carriers announced in early May 2020 that passenger flights were resuming on limited routes including to and from Melbourne. Qatar Airways was one of the only airlines in the world that has continued to fly uninterrupted throughout the pandemic. A heavily reduced number of freight flights between Melbourne and the UAE has severely limited Victorian exporters ability to get products to market, particularly in the food and fibre sector. However, these constraints are easing due to a combination of Australian Government assistance through the International Freight Assistance Mechanism and the gradual ramping up of the number of freight flights between Melbourne and Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Opportunities are growing for Victorian technology businesses

Coronavirus has presented many challenges for businesses exporting to the MENA region, but as the region moves to doing more online, Global Victoria is observing new opportunities emerging from this crisis for Victorian technology businesses.

Education and edtech

As governments across MENA have switched to an online learning environment for their K-12 students, opportunities for Victorian edtech companies to provide services into markets across the region have broadened. As well as opportunities for companies specialising in e-learning solutions there are also opportunities for educational providers who can deliver micro-credential programs in partnership with local higher education providers and technical consultants who are experienced in online learning design from setting up assessments in the learning management system to online exam supervision.

The VGTI Dubai has already had success in facilitating new opportunities in the e-learning space.

The VGTI Dubai worked with the Victorian edtech sector to promote Victoria’s capabilities to Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), which successfully resulted in Victorian EdTech businesses being approved and promoted at the KHDA online learning portal. There are now 4 companies and one Victorian school up on the site:

  • Curio
  • TALi Health
  • Mindsets
  • Cool Australia
  • Geelong Grammar School’s Institute of Positive Education

Information and Communication Technology

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the movement of economic activities to the online realm across the MENA region. The VGTI Dubai has identified the following technology sectors as having substantial opportunities for Victorian technology companies:

  • Blockchain - for logistics in relation to the movement of goods and creating secured transactions between businesses.
  • Fintech – for banks, authorities, SMEs particularly in relation to anti-money laundering and cashless transactions
  • Cyber security – in relation to date protection and cybercrime
  • Civil security applications

If your business would like to explore these new opportunities in the MENA market please get in touch with the Global Victoria team in Dubai.

Trade missions and official visits to the region in early 2020 help to cement strong relationships across the region

In the first three months of 2020, the Global Victoria team in Melbourne and Dubai successfully supported a delegation of 25 Victorian companies to Gulfood 2020 and two Ministerial visits to the region.

In February 2020, the VGTI Dubai helped 25 Victorian businesses enhance their market presence and secure sales at Gulfood 2020 in Dubai, the world's largest annual food and beverage trade exhibition. The former Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation, Marlene Kairouz, led the delegation enhancing the visibility of the delegation to key decision makers in market. The Minister officially opened the Victorian stand on the first day of the event and hosted the official Victorian Government business networking event on the first night of Gulfood, that connected Victorian companies with buyers from supermarkets and airlines and distributors operating across the Middle East region.

Victoria has been participating and supporting companies to attend Gulfood since the early 2000s. Gulfood is particularly important for Victoria, with Victorian food and fibre exports to the MENA region worth $1.1 billion in 2018-19.

Also in February 2020, The Minister for Racing, the Hon Martin Pakula MP, visited South Africa to attend the 38th Asian Racing Conference and announced that the 2022 Asian Racing Conference will be hosted in Melbourne.

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

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