Waterford entrepreneur and founder of Lovin Dubai to speak at major Arab Irish business conference in Dublin


28.08.23 Waterford businessman Richard Fitzgerald has been announced for the upcoming Arab Irish Business Forum and will address delegates on his experience of doing business in the Arab world, offering a unique perspective following more than a decade spent in the region.

The conference, which will feature speakers from both Ireland and the Arab states will provide expert analysis, insight and advice on looking beyond the UK and the EU for extensive business opportunities.  Taking place on 13 September at the Mansion Hose in Dublin, the Arab Irish Business Forum is set to be one of Ireland’s largest gatherings of Arab Irish business interests in recent years.

Richard Fitzgerald left his job as a senior advertising executive to head to the Middle East in 2012. Three years later he founded Augustus Media, which publishes the highly successful Lovin Dubai, Lovin Saudi and Smashi digital and online media brands, as Richard recognised the extent to how new media and technology could help businesses in Saudi and the UAE.

“I received a very warm welcome on arrival to the UAE,” said Richard. “It’s a region that is often misunderstood but there are many similarities between Arabs and the Irish such as our sense of community, family and heritage along with a great sense of humour. But when doing business there, it’s important to understand the differences, particularly in how business is conducted. You have to be patient as a deal can take time to get over the line but when it does, you have to be able to respond fast.

“Countries such as Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Egypt and Qatar are evolving at pace.  There is considerable population growth and a huge reliance on imports and outside expertise in areas such as tourism, infrastructure and technology. The Irish do very well in the Arab world and the opportunities are vast.  I think we’ve only just scratched the surface and there’s never been a better time to explore what the region has to offer. The Arab Irish Business Forum is an incredible opportunity to hear the inside track from business leaders already exporting to or doing business in the Gulf and Middle East and I think the learnings and networking will prove invaluable.”

Irish exports1 to the Middle East and Gulf hit €1.46 billion for the first half of 2023 with notable increases in exports to Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.  In addition to merchandise, the Arab Irish Chamber of Commerce in Dublin estimates that trade in services, worth an estimated €4 billion in 2022, will meet if not exceed the overall value of goods exported to the Arab states this year.

Speakers at the Arab Irish Business Forum include former Tourism chief, Niall Gibbons; country manager for Emirates, Anita Thomas, COO of the Bahrain Stock Exchange, Abdulla Adbin, Expo2020 technology head, Mohammed Al Hashmi, economist, Jim Power, Ian Cahill of Flahavan’s and Ahmad Younis, CEO of the Arab Irish Chamber of Commerce.