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Irish Minister Dara Calleary leads trade mission to the UAE, further strengthening strong trade relations with Ireland

  • Dara Calleary’s visit to the UAE features a four-day program focused on further strengthening existing trade ties within the region.

  • Irish innovation is in demand in the UAE with growth in exports year on year. 

  • In 2022, Enterprise Ireland client exports to the UAE increased by 22% compared to 2021, valued at €161.5m (175.5m USD).

  • Minister Calleary’s visit includes a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Enterprise Ireland and Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy, providing Irish companies with a global platform for growth and promoting Irish investment in the region.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 30 January 2024: Ireland’s Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation, Dara Calleary TD arrived in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Monday, January 29 for a four-day trade mission organised by Enterprise Ireland to strengthen existing economic ties between Ireland and the UAE. Leading the trade mission on behalf of Enterprise Ireland, the Irish Government agency for trade and innovation is CEO, Leo Clancy.

The UAE represents a significant growth market for Irish businesses with Irish innovation continuing to be in demand, particularly in the areas of medtech, aviation and technology. Exports by Irish companies backed by Enterprise Ireland continues to grow substantially year on year. For 2022, exports to the UAE increased by 22 per cent compared to 2021 to stand at €161.5m (175.5m USD). 

To further enhance trade collaboration between the two nations, Minister Calleary and Leo Clancy are meeting with UAE ministers, heads of organisations and business leaders to discuss the latest developments and innovation in the sectors of medtech, aviation, artificial intelligence and fintech. 

Leading the trade mission, Ireland’s Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital, and Company Regulation, Dara Calleary, emphasised, “In recent years, the UAE and the broader Middle East region have become increasingly important markets for Irish companies, particularly in the med-tech, aviation, and technology sectors. In 2022, Irish exports to the region amounted to €161.5m (175.5m USD) representing a 22% increase on 2021, and we anticipate further growth in the years ahead. This trade mission will further explore mutually beneficial business opportunities, areas for collaboration, and generate awareness of Ireland’s world leading innovation offering.”

The trade mission agenda began with a meeting between Ireland and the Executive Council of Dubai. Heading the meeting was H.E. Abdulla Mohammed Al Basti, Secretary General of The Executive Council of Dubai, H.E. Helal Saeed Almarri Director General Department of Economy and Tourism, and H.E. Aisha Miran Assistant Secretary General for Strategy Management and Governance.  The meeting will also follow up on the Executive Council delegation that visited Ireland in September last year, led by H.E. Aisha Miran and hosted by Leo Clancy, CEO of Enterprise Ireland. A focus of that visit included the Irish model for economic development and the 25 years of experience of Enterprise Ireland working to foster the growth of Irish SME's.

This was  followed by a meeting at Dubai Chambers which included the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Enterprise Ireland and Dubai Chambers. Observed by Minister Dara Callery and Mohammad Ali bin Rashed Lootah, President and CEO of Dubai Chambers, the agreement was formally signed by Leo Clancy and Saeed Al Gergawi, the Vice President of the Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy. This pivotal agreement is strategically designed to: 

  • Unlock lucrative opportunities for clients of Enterprise Ireland, especially in the areas of technology, manufacturing, ESG, and clean technologies.

  • Further strengthen Irish investment, trade, and business links in Dubai, while promoting economic and commercial relationships, which, aims  to pave the way for rapidly growing Irish companies to expand into the region.

  • Provide opportunities for Irish companies to connect with Dubai Chambers members.

Welcoming the partnership between Enterprise Ireland and Dubai Chambers, Minister Calleary said, “As our agency responsible for supporting indigenous Irish businesses to go global, I am delighted that Enterprise Ireland will formalise the partnership with the Dubai Chambers. This will no doubt provide Irish companies a global platform for growth and evolution in the UAE and wider Middle East region.”

Leo Clancy, Chief Executive Officer, Enterprise Ireland said, “The signing of this MoU is a key step to unlocking further opportunities to benefit Irish companies and potential business partners in Dubai. Aligning with Enterprise Ireland’s mission to help Irish companies grow, export and expand internationally, this agreement will help connect Irish innovation with the vibrant Dubai business ecosystem. The UAE is a growing market for Ireland that supports over 13,500 jobs back in Ireland through the Irish companies that export to the country.”

During the trade mission, Minister Calleary will address a FinTech/ICT workshop with nine Irish companies participating. Hosted by the FinTech Hive at the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the session will allow attendees to connect with potential collaborators, mentors, and investors, while encouraging partnerships between FinTech/ICT Irish clients and established companies, and governmental bodies in the UAE. 

Expanding on this, the Minister is set to meet with H.E. Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications. The meeting aims to position Ireland as a source for world leading high-tech products and solutions for the UAE market and promote Irish technology companies.

Minister Calleary will hold a series of meetings with aviation leaders to explore areas for further cooperation and services in demand. There are approximately 250 Irish companies operating in the aviation and aerospace sector that have played a pivotal role in shaping the industry's success in the Middle East. Notably, 200 of these companies are active Enterprise Ireland clients, contributing significantly to the Irish economy (€1.8 bn). With a range of Irish companies already supporting the UAE aviation sector, there is an opportunity to build further upon this especially as Irish travel tech companies provide innovative solutions for the world’s leading airlines. 

During the trade mission, the Minister will hold meetings with:

  • Dubai Duty Free: The Minister will meet with Irish businessman Colm McLoughlin, CEO and Executive Vice Chairman, Dubai Duty Free. Now in its 40th year, Dubai Duty Free has grown into one of the biggest single travel retail operators in the world, with a sales turnover of $2.16 billion in 2023.

  • Emirates Airlines: The Minister will meet with Adnan Kaim, Chief Commercial Officer and Thierry Aucoc, Senior Vice President of Commercial Operations (Europe & Russian Federation). The easy access to the UAE via twice daily Emirates Airlines flights from Ireland plays a role in attracting Irish businesses and tourists, resulting in a positive impact on Ireland's tourism and trade sectors. Emirates already works with Irish companies, such as Botany Weaving providing materials used onboard flights, and exploring further opportunities for Irish companies to support the needs of Emirates will be a key focus.

  • Dubai International Airport: The Minister will meet CEO, Paul Griffiths, Majed Al Joker, COO, and Eugene Barry, Executive Vice President – Commercial.  Minister Calleary and Leo Clancy will discuss the existing Irish companies working with the Airport and explore areas where there is a further identified need for innovation, where Irish companies excel. 

The trade mission further coincides with Arab Health 2024, where the Minister will be supporting a delegation of 17 Irish health innovators participating in Ireland’s national pavilion. 

For more information on Enterprise Ireland, please visit

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