The Welsh Government has had a presence in the Middle East since 2004, when it opened a permanent office at the British Embassy in Dubai. Its remit is to promote Wales and represent the nation’s trade interests across the whole MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region.

The MENA Office helps companies, academic institutions and other organisations develop and create business. It nurtures opportunities for inward investment from Middle East countries, potentially creating high-value jobs in Wales, and provides a wide range of resources and advice for Welsh businesses that have ambitions to export to the region.  

During its first decade of the MENA Office’s operation, its importance was underlined by the high value of Welsh exports to the markets it oversees. Between 2004 and 2014, physical exports to the region reached a cumulative total of US$13.5billion. When the service sector is included, this sum doubles to US$27billion. 


Oman waterfront

The Sultanate of Oman has proved to be an accessible and lucrative market for Welsh exporters. The country has enjoyed a trading relationship with the United Kingdom for more than 350 years, during which time strong cultural and academic links have been forged. Business ties between the two nations are at a high, and English is widely spoken. 

Many senior Omani politicians and business figures were educated in the UK or have lived here  – and their familiarity with Britain has brought about a high level of recognition for the Wales brand in Oman. Around 44% of the population are foreign nationals, including around 7,000 British expatriates who live and work in the country.  

In May 2019, the UK Government signed a Comprehensive Agreement with Oman, promising co-operation across a number of sectors, including science, health, technology and innovation. The UK is the largest source of Foreign Direct Investment in Oman by a considerable margin, with its investment accounting for 45% of total FDI. 

Kuwait is likewise a dynamic and open market for Welsh exporters. More than 100 British companies already have a presence in the Gulf state, including Shell, BP, PWC, Harvey Nichols, Boots, Amec, Atkins, and Waitrose.  There is a strong Welsh contingent in Kuwait’s British expatriate community, which numbers more than 8,000. 

What’s more, there is a considerable appetite within Kuwait for greater trade with the nations of the United Kingdom, including Wales. In the year to September 2019, British exports to the country rose by 23%, with goods and services valued at £2.6billion.   

The opportunities for Welsh companies have been broadened by Kuwait’s Development Plan, which has been aiming to diversify the country’s economic interests outside oil production. Announced in 2009, it has seen significant government investment into a range of sectors, including construction, education and training, environment, aviation, defence and security, healthcare and retail.

The businesses taking part in the October 2019 trade mission provide a snapshot of Welsh innovation and enterprise in all its diversity. They include consultancy firm Act Sustainably, which will be aiming to identify new clients in Muscat and Kuwait for its environmental management and business training services. 

BCB International will be seeking distributors and wholesalers for its pioneering protection and survival equipment, which is relied upon by soldiers, seafarers and aid workers in the world’s harshest environments. Meanwhile, the flame arresters made by Elmac Technologies and KIGG’s smart-meter technology have already been flying the flag for Welsh expertise throughout the region and around the world.

The organic yoghurts, milk and butter produced by Rachel’s Dairy, all made from milk sourced within 50 miles of its Aberystwyth base, have turned the company into a global brand – and it’s now aiming to develop its presence in the region. Creative animation and video agency Tantrwm is looking to find new business with organisations in the Gulf states that wish to train staff more effectively.

The British Rototherm Company’s presence on the trade mission will help it support existing distributors for its precision measurement instruments, and follow up on new opportunities. Website Express is looking to engage with key decision-makers in Omani and Kuwaiti businesses that could benefit from its bespoke software systems, and Site Heat-treatment Services is demonstrating its specialist expertise in thermal engineering.

It’s an unparalleled chance to showcase Welsh companies to Muscat, Kuwait and the wider world – and to show just how Wales means business.

Key Facts

  • The UK is the largest source of Foreign Direct Investment in Oman, with its investment accounting for 45% of total Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
  • In the year to September 2019, UK exports to Kuwait rose by 23%, with goods and services valued at £2.6billion.

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