I usually charge a fee for this information through my trade consulting firm Midman International. However, I am feeling charitable today. Besides, Canadian firms need all the help they can get to break out of their comfy shells and hatch into fully grown chickens who can fend for their own gruel in a global economy that is increasingly reducing its US trade dependence and directing it to the EU or eastern giants like China and India. This is my modest attempt at shining a small heat lamp on those companies to speed up the process.
Here are five leads into top business opportunities for businesses seeking to position themselves along growth sectors in the Middle East. Yes, that means those sectors are looking for SUPPLIERS to TAKE THEIR MONEY and PROVIDE PRODUCTS/SERVICES:
1. Finance and Banking ICT & Software: The Arab banking sector will invest $1.8 Billion in information and communication technologies in 2008, a 15% increase from what they already spent in 2007. Arab banks boast one of the highest rates of growth in technology investment in the world (mainly because they got on the boat a little later than everyone else). Canada has 83 ICT companies that specialize in the Financial industry. Please, at least one of you should go down there and grab a contract or two!
2. Sharia-Compliant Hospitality Products: Aha! Read that again. It's not Sharia-compliant Banking. This time, a new Islamic trend is set to launch, and with it a new need for niche products. This May, Dubai-based Al-Mullah Properties will announce plans to invest $2 Billion to develop an Islamically-compliant hotel brand portfolio appealing to lifestyle travelers - both Muslim and non-Muslim. A new chain of up to 90 international hotels (branded as Cliftonwood, Adham and Wings) will operate with universal Islamic codes such as no alcohol and Halal food only. If you are a manufacturer/exporter of luxury and fine food products for the hospitality industry, now is the time to think about new product lines.
3. Cement and Construction Materials/Technologies: Everyone knows it. Dubai is the fastest growing city in the word, with anywhere between 15 to 25% of the world's cranes working constantly on its towers. The real estate boom in the UAE is about to face a crisis. Cement is on back log! Companies that provide ready-mix concrete have issued their clients notices that they are not in a position to supply more than 45 per cent of the ready-mix orders. In some cases, ready-mix companies have even ceased production. If any company has a solution, get on the next plane to Dubai and bring home some goat meat! (sorry, no bacon in UAE).
4. Recycling and Industrial Waste Management Solutions: With all that construction comes much industrial waste. Lots of it. Recycling and Waste Management technologies have an open opportunity here.
5. Oil, Oil, and Oil: Duh! Oil services are still in high demand. Better, cheaper extraction technologies. Maintenance services for older wells. Training services for labour localization initiatives. It's all there. This week Bahrain announced plans to add 700 new oil wells to meet increasing energy demands. This summer, Yemen will award its first round of contracts for off-shore operations, prompting a scurry by local firms to find international partners who have much needed expertise in providing offshore services in a market that traditionally relied on on-shore production.
And there you have it. If you are a company that found this advice helpful and was able to capitalize on it in any way, shape, or form... congratulations! You are one of very few smart chicks who found a crack in the shell of Canadian reluctance and broke out successfully!