There is no experts in Middle East, just different levels of missed opportunities

Specialist in international business development in the Middle East, consultant Amr Arafa shares his experience in supporting business development in the Persian Gulf markets.

What is unique about UAE?

Safety, accessibility & future. UAE has a world central geocentric location, which allowing one-third of the world’s population to reach within 4 hours flying and within eight hours flying for two-thirds of world’s population. The population in UAE is with approximately 85% are foreign nationals.

We understand that Dubai is going to hold the Expo2020 for the 1st time in Arab countries, what are in your mind for SMEs in Portugal?

Given Dubai is always a trade hub between the East and West since long ago, with Expo2020 hosting opportunity in October 2021, it will accelerate the pace for Dubai to become an international trading hub in both online and on-site.

Some eastern Europe and Greek products are gradually to enter gulf market via Dubai in recent years. I hope to see more Portuguese corporates from different sectors such as pharmaceutical, personal cares, petrochemicals, agricultural products and FMCGs.

How about E-Commerce / Fintech areas in Dubai?

Last month, we started to welcome digital payments giant, Stripe to set up their 1st middle east office in Dubai. E-commerce pioneer, Amazon setted up its regional headquarter in Dubai in 2016. Also, Dubai announced its 1st digital bank license in 2021.  However, NONE from Portugal now and we are expected some big names from Portugal in a near by future.

You are CPA qualified from USA and CIPA from Gulf countries, which is a high-level Islamic finance accounting recognized certificate, can you help us to understand little bit about both Islamic finance and Islamic accounting?

Both Islamic finance and Islamic accounting are built based on principles and basic theories of conventional bank and conventional accounting. In certain circumstances, Islamic bank and Islamic accounting disclosures required certain terms and conditions in order to accommodate the Islamic Principles.

What’s the biggest problem foreign business may face when they are new in middle east?

Different business minds and culture. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

Can you please be more specific?

One Portuguese exporter told me he received lots of emails and Facebook enquires from Dubai. Once he provided the quotation or even brochures, those potential buyers disappeared. He would like to know why. I helped him to correct a few cultural mis-representing words in his brochure and quotations. Now he is going to open the 2nd office in Abu Dhabi this year.

Is there any advices for you to give to Portuguese companies whom are going to enter middle east market?

There is NO EXPERTS in middle east, just different levels of Missed Opportunities.

UAE, Market Access




Amr Arafa
International Business Consultant – UAE | Market Access


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