By Daniel Hunter
Lincolnshire firms need to look to high growth markets if they want to succeed, according to local export chief Peter Hogarth from government export body, UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) East Midlands.
And to help firms to break into Middle-Eastern markets, UKTI is hosting a free Business Arabic for Beginners course on Tuesday 14 May at the Holiday Inn Hotel, Brayford Wharf North, as part of High Growth Export Week.
The day long masterclass aims to help firms communicate better with potential customers across Arabic countries by teaching some language and providing an insight into the cultural attitudes and behaviours.
“Countries across the Middle-East region are looking to diversify their economy and develop their infrastructure and skills," Peter Hogarth, Regional Director for UKTI East Midlands said.
“Many UK businesses are fearful of doing business in the Middle-East but UK exports to the Gulf are booming and we have a great reputation for professionalism across this region, so it’s a good market to target.
“However it is true that business is done differently and it’s important to learn how: for example, business people across the Middle-East place a strong focus on building relationships so initial meetings may involve discussions that don’t relate at all to the business.
“It’s also very beneficial if you can learn a few words of greeting and be ready to ask questions about them and how things are and what is happening in the country.”
Lincolnshire firm Badley Ashton, based in Winceby, is a geoscience consultancy employing 64 people in the county to provide advice to the oil and gas industry worldwide on how to optimise the extraction of these resources. The firm have been working across the Middle-East for 15 years, and have established offices and staff in the Sultanate of Oman and Abu-Dhabi, UAE.
Meriem Bertouche, CEO, explains why Lincolnshire firms should explore this region: “We have had great success across the Middle-East, which may seem natural for a company delivering services to the oil and gas sector, but it’s become extremely apparent to me that countries in the Middle-East offer a high number of opportunities to all sorts of companies.
“There are huge up and coming markets, with new towns and cities being developed on a regular basis, plus there are a lot of expatriates based across the Middle-East which creates a big market for lots of sectors, from oil and gas to construction and food products.
“Of course some of the markets have been clearly hit by the recession, such as Dubai, but other markets such as Qatar and Saudia Arabia are currently emerging as markets with a lot of potential for talented local firms.
“There are certain different ways of doing business in different parts of the Middle-East due to cultural variability, which is important to be aware of, so I’d encourage firms to sign up for this workshop to get some key information that would help them grow their business in the region.”
The UKTI Export Week aims to increase the momentum of sales to high growth markets and reach as many businesses as possible with information about the support available from UKTI for selling their products and services to millions of potential new customers.
Peter continued: “The global economic centre of gravity has shifted towards high growth markets and an increasing number of local firms are prospering by exporting to these markets. The latest regional trade statistics for the whole of 2012 show we have hit a record high for our total exports at £18.3 billion. We have also topped our sales to the Middle-East and North Africa with an increase of almost £200 million.
“So we’re doing something right and local firms are not only breaking into high growth markets but competing on a level playing field globally.
“Through this Export Week and specific events like the learn Arabic workshop, UKTI is helping firms to export so they become more competitive and innovative.
"I’d urge Lincoln firms to sign up for this event and get hints and tips on exporting across the Middle-East.”
Join us on