15 October 2013

Consider exporting to the Middle East

With British-made products being highly valued in the Middle East, companies looking to expand internationally should consider exporting here.

Companies looking to expand internationally may wish to consider exporting to the Middle East.

The region may be known for its political unrest and instability, but with the number of internet users rocketing, it also offers business opportunities to savvy entrepreneurs. Data from Nielson’s internet Usage and World Population Statistics shows that over the last 10 years, internet usage in the Middle East has grown by an astounding 2,639%, compared to 393% in Europe.

The biggest consumer of YouTube videos is now Saudi Arabia, with four out of 10 of the nation’s population visiting the site at least once a day, while seven out of 10 log onto YouTube weekly.

The proportion of people in the Middle East with mobile phones is now 19% higher than average.

This technology explosion means it is now easier for UK businesses to trade successfully in the Middle East. British-made products are valued highly but what should companies do if they want to start exporting to the region?

1.      Visit in person

To secure contracts, you must visit the Middle East and build up relationships face-to-face. Having an office somewhere like Dubai can also help companies get a toe-hold in the region as it means there is a team working in the same time zone as the customers.

2.      Translate your website

Make sure you have an Arabic version of your website to make your company more accessible and reach customers in the Middle East. According to Google, Arabic will be the fourth most important language on the internet by 2015 after English, Chinese and Spanish.

3.      Get advice

You can get advice to help you break into an export market from UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) and The Institute of Export. Both these organisations support UK businesses in trading internationally and can put you in touch with experts and experienced exporters who already work in the Middle East. It is particularly important to get advice on how to protect yourself against risks as well as protecting your intellectual property.

4.      Believe in your business

Research from the British Chambers of Commerce shows many small and start-up businesses don’t take advantage of export markets due to a lack of confidence. More than 20% of businesses think they lack the knowledge, managerial capacity and in-house skills to export.  Believe in your products and services and don’t be afraid to take the next step in achieving business growth.