Home Featured Gulf Markets Insight & Opportunities

Gulf Markets Insight & Opportunities

by Keerat

By Steve Parker, Owner & Director – Steve Parker ICD (International Company Development)


In previous issues of The Business Influencer, I mentioned how my 40 years of active exporting and international trade experiences proved an original belief, that relationships with and understanding of people, companies and cultures is the key to strategic global growth.

In issue 6 – I promised my insight into the Gulf region, where in truth I have learned and continued to learn, how business can really be discovered, nurtured and grown through relationship development.


I first went to the Gulf region – for this article meaning Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and the Sultanate of Oman, in the early 1980’s. Doing business in the region has a habit of both making you feel very old and stimulates you to feel very young, often on a daily basis?!

To illustrate age, when I first went, there were often only one or two hotels that business people from overseas used in each place and Dubai, where many of you will go to now, the Sheikh Zayed Road was one or two lanes in each direction and there were few if any buildings beyond the World Trade Centre, when starting by the Creek.

But the challenges, the great people I know and the opportunities that the region always makes happen, mean that I still encourage companies to take advantage of business that can be secured, particularly when helped by an experienced person to show you how and to shelter you from some of the inevitable pains and frustrations.

Some advice doesn’t change ….. the key is ‘Relationships, Relationships and Relationships’ – so concentrate on them and do not under any circumstances abuse them. They also enable you to discover what is really happening and get you and your company involved in opportunities where you have a real chance of success, providing you pass the ‘testing process’, that could be an article in itself.

Briefly and strategically what are the key things that have happened since before Covid started and where are the opportunities now?


Saudi Arabia:

The country continues its drive in many areas including the development of manufacturing and people. They want to move away from a reliance on Petrochemicals and want to create employment for Saudi nationals, as well as reducing the reliance on imported product.



When the Gulf war happened, many Kuwaitis never came back to the country and now 90% of nationals are employed by the Government. There are major plans to create and expand sectors of private industry both in products and services and to once again, reduce a reliance on imports of key products, highlighted during both Covid and recent global logistics problems.



In focus for both the World Cup and because relationships have now been re-established with the other countries in the Gulf, having been cut due to Al Qaeda links. Opportunities in many sectors that will go beyond the football, with Petrochemicals, tourism, manufacturing and food production and supply just a few suggestions.



A small but significant market with its own Aluminium production and recovering from recent events. Always receptive to UK business and worth spending some time there on every trip (soon thankfully to be possible).


Sultanate of Oman:

The Sultanate continues to grow in a slower and more considered way than some of its neighbours and feels completely different. Concerns and opportunities include Environmental sector, the development of manufacturing, increasing the skills and opportunities of Omani’s, more construction to help wider tourism growth and food and drink development to increase ‘food security’.


The United Arab Emirates (UAE):

First of all consider all the Emirates and be aware of differences between them, rather than just focus on Dubai and Abu Dhabi. With a 65% + reliance on tourism, they are working hard on reinstating it all. The delayed Dubai Expo 2020, now scheduled to open on 1st October will once again put the spotlight on Dubai by global media. The Emirates lead on environmental, IT and increasingly manufacturing, even beyond the Free Zones ( that enable complete ownership and repatriation of funds).


There is now daily media on the high numbers of start up businesses, Women entrepreneurs, manufacturing, food development ( to protect the population from food shortages), Interior design and construction and environmental control ( to keep tourism pristine, amongst other benefits). Recently I have started to become involved in management and leadership development conversations too.

Market intelligence in my inbox every day and conversations with my trusted contacts in the region, suggest that these could soon be exciting times. Time to feel old and young again?!

As Mark Twain said all those years ago….’twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do, than by the things that you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour, catch the trade winds in your sails ( did he mean ‘sales’ too?), Explore, Dream, Discover.

Let’s have some conversations.


Steve Parker
07854 655397

Steve Parker has been involved in exporting and international trade for more than 40 years and started his first company, Steve Parker ICD International Company Development in January 2005, believing that most companies have the capacity to start exporting, or to export more, but for a shortage of time, money or expertise.

Steve works strategically with clients by advising, showing and /or doing. He works with clients in the UK and in various countries globally, including currently the Gulf, Thailand, Singapore, USA and Australia. Current work also includes directing and being an ‘expert provider’ on the Internationalisation and Innovation Driven Enterprise Programme for part of the Thailand Government.

Business always starts with a physical or virtual cup of tea.

related posts