By Joe Hepworth, Commercial Manager, The Links Group
The ‘Opportunities Dubai’ road show kicked off on Monday, May 21st at the Institute of Directors in London. The audience was made up of a very focused group of 25 companies, the majority of whom were well down the development path with regards to setting up their business in Dubai – wanting to understand the practical steps towards company formation in the region, having already understood the commercial opportunities that exist.
This proved to be an excellent start to the week with some very lively debate in the expert panel discussion where we were fortunate to be chaired by Abdeslam El-Idrissi from the Arab British Chamber of Commerce and also have Jerry Parks from Taylor Wessing – an old friend of The Links Group – providing the legal angle.
Before flying up to Edinburgh on Tuesday, I met with the UKTI, Institute of Exporters & Middle East Association in London for some very productive discussions about formalising our ties with each organisation. I was also treated to an advance showing of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations with the guardsmen practising in the horse guards parade as I walked to the UKTI.
Edinburgh on Wednesday, May 23rd showcased the potential that exists in Scottish business expansion to the GCC with more than 50 companies present – a true testament to a very good publicity campaign by the Edinburgh Council and our hosts, Scottish Development International.
As it was The Links Group’s first time north of the border, understanding the business potential that exists in Dubai and the Middle East for Scottish business was the main area of interest. John Kemkers from Eversheds, an international law firm, joined the panel to provide legal expertise and advice. Companies in attendance were from a variety of sectors: food and produce, hospitality, oil and gas, retail and professional services were particularly prevalent.
The final session on May 25th was hosted at DHL’s impressive air hub facility at East Midlands airport by the very efficient and effective Derbyshire & Nottingham Chamber of Commerce was a great way to round off the week. We had another 25 companies in attendance from a variety of sectors – manufacturing and industrial being the main focus given the region’s particular expertise.
One-to-ones were especially productive here with the presentations and panel discussions – where we were joined by UK-UAE business specialist Malcolm Wright from Spectrum Consulting – driving out additional interest from businesses who look to be ready to ‘make the move’ and want The Links Group’s help to understand the path.
After concluding the final session of ‘Opportunities Dubai’ in Derby, I’ve been in front of more than 100 companies from throughout the UK with about 25 engaging in detailed one-to-one discussions about bringing their business to Dubai and the GCC in the short to medium term.
Throughout the week, my ‘Latest Trends’ presentation was a source of real interest for all delegates; combined with David Harris from Dubai FDI’s macro-level review of Dubai as an investment destination, we brought a very positive and practical message to UK companies to help them understand the business potential that exists in the region, and how to harness it through Dubai.
All-in-all it was a fun and effective week, one that I hope we’ll do on a regular basis henceforth.