Irish Exports to the Arab World up 2% for 2023 against backdrop of declining global exports


Saudi Arabia of particular importance to Irish exporters but Egypt and Morocco offering growing opportunities according to Arab Irish Chamber of Commerce

March 2024:

The value of Irish exports to the Arab world rose by 2% in 2023 to just over €3 billion according to the Arab Irish Chamber of Commerce (AICC), which was commenting on the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

While global exports were down 6%1, CEO of the AICC, Ahmad Younis said that the MENA region has consistently provided Ireland with significant trade opportunities over the past 15 years, once again bucking the global trend. The AICC’s role is to support Irish business exporting to the Middle East and Gulf region, strengthening trade links through its work with governments, embassies and trade organisations.

Saudi Arabia remains the most important of the Arab states to Irish businesses, with the value of goods exported rising 9% in 2023 to almost €932M.

The other top performing Arab markets for 2023 were:

  • UAE with the value of exports from Ireland rising 2% to €656M last year
  • Egypt, which saw a rise of 13% to €286M
  • Morocco increased the value of the goods it imported from Irish exporters by 34% to €157M
  • Qatar rose 13% to €132M

The Arab region is highly reliant on imports and, with a population of more than 37 million, Saudi Arabia is the largest importer of Irish goods among the AICC’s member states. A growing economy, an expanding population and significant investment in infrastructure, urban growth, tourism and renewable energy has opened up new opportunities for Irish exporters and those looking to do business in and with Saudi Arabia, according to Ahmad Younis.

Power generating machinery and equipment, medical and pharma goods, dairy products, food, baby formula, Botox and contact lenses are among the top products heading east from Irish businesses, including a growing number of SMEs.

Ahmad Younis said: “With four airline carriers providing direct access to the Arab markets and with a growing population of more than 440 million people, it’s not difficult to understand why Irish businesses are attracted to what has become an area of great opportunity.

“The Irish tend to do very well in these regions as we share a lot of the same cultural values, which helps businesspeople make better connections. Getting started can seem like a daunting task but there are fantastic supports from state agencies such as Enterprise Ireland and Bord Bia, both of which have an on-the-ground presence. Ireland’s trade relationship, particularly with the Gulf regions, has strengthened significantly in recent years. Regular trade missions led by the Irish at ministerial levels have made trade relations stronger than ever. In addition, the Arab Irish Chamber of Commerce, which exporters rely on for document legalisation, customs clearance and translations offers a unique online documentation service that takes away much of the administrative burden so often faced by those trying to do business overseas.”

1 CSO February 2024


About the Arab Irish Chamber of Commerce

  • For more than 35 years, the AICC has been facilitating exports from Ireland to the Arab world by arranging and processing all requisite documents, making it easier for Irish companies to do business with Arab countries.
  • The AICC promotes Ireland and Irish exporters to Arab countries. AICC strengthens trade links between Ireland and the region through its link with the embassies, business groups and government bodies.

[1] CSO February 2024