The steady economic growth being witnessed in the Middle East is increasingly attracting Hong Kong’s business community to the region, a fact that was emphasized during the recently concluded ‘Summer Sourcing Show for Gifts, Houseware and Toys’ in Hong Kong. The fourth edition of the annual Show was organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council.
Economies in the Middle East region continued to grow robustly - thanks to strong oil revenues - with real GDP increasing by 6.3 per cent in 2006; the best growth performance for the region in more than 10 years. The high oil prices also boosted regional liquidity, fueling a boom in the local stock and real estate markets. The stock market boom partly reflects improved fundamentals as well as substantial privatization programmes in some countries of the region.
Speaking at the seminar held on the sidelines of the Summer Sourcing Show in Hong Kong, Nidal Abou Zaki, Managing Director of Orient Planet PR & Marketing Communications, said, “It is encouraging to know that an increasing number of companies in Hong Kong are recognizing the business potential of the Middle East and are keen on establishing operations here. The increasing oil prices and a steady growth being witnessed in several key sectors of the economy have meant that the Middle East presents an attractive investment option for investors from around the world.
The Middle East region as a whole is moving towards a knowledge-based digital economy, which has resulted in an increased emphasis on technology products. Also, with IT spending in public and private sectors increasing, the regional markets are emerging as powerful buyers of technology related products.
There is increasing evidence that IT and technology imports from Hong Kong will assume greater importance in the coming years. As public and private sectors alike, focus on keeping up with technology uptake, sustained spending and major investment on education will see the emergence of a new well-informed corporate consumer class, for many of Hong Kong’s high tech exports.
Interestingly, companies in Hong Kong, who have recognised the tremendous business potential in the Middle East, are increasingly viewing Dubai as a major gateway to the region – an expected trend, considering the fact that Dubai commands between 20-30 per cent of all retail space in the Middle East. Moreover, UAE continues to be the largest export market for Hong Kong in the Middle East, with total exports to the UAE growing by seven per cent to reach US$ 1.86 billion during January-November 2006.
“Dubai has become a vital business center, not only for the UAE, but for a whole region encompassing the Middle East, East Africa, the Indian subcontinent and Central Asia. An embodiment of the vision of its leaders, Dubai is today a prime location for trade fairs and exhibitions, a financial center, a favourite tourist destination and an international hub for e-commerce,”
Toufik Daouk, General Manager, Vertex Trading, who also spoke at the seminar in Hong Kong, said, “Companies from Hong Kong who are looking to consolidate their presence in the Middle East, will be at an advantage if they perceive UAE as a gateway to the region. Several factors such as strategic location, excellent infrastructure and logistics facilities, advanced telecommunications and banking system, booming tourism and hospitality sectors and a robust eGovernance system, have contributed in making UAE a preferred business destination, and we are certain that Hong Kong’s business fraternity will make the best use of these factors.”
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