06 September 2016

Billions to Reap in the Middle East

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Favourable economic situation, large-scale investments and considerable purchasing power of countries in the Middle East attract Polish companies. Particularly as the opportunities for growth in European markets diminish.

Polish companies are especially attracted to Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Qatar – countries offering unrivalled opportunities for unlimited growth. The Polish government promoted this direction of exports a few years ago and focused not only on the furniture industry, which enjoyed a worldwide success, but also on construction, food, energy, power, rail, medical, cosmetic, and even luxury goods industries.

New prospects for the Polish companies are offered by the upcoming Dubai Expo 2020, the preparation of which is to consume USD 8 million. It is a great opportunity to win multi-million contacts for all international investors, especially those representing construction, hotel, food, travel and tourism industries. And this is not the only big event in the Middle East in the years to come. FIFA World Cup is to be held in Qatar in 2022. Similarly to previous sport events of this class in other parts of the world, it arouses hopes for additional profits among companies. The current estimates suggest that organisation of this football event will consume USD 25 billion. Large-scale investments worth USD 500 billion related to infrastructural development are planned also in Saudi Arabia. So, there are projects worth fighting for.

Golden Opportunities

Entrepreneurs and companies may be discouraged by problems in the Middle East, but HSBC’s experts allay their concerns and remind that there are also countries which are socially and politically stable and their economies expand dynamically.

According to projection of the Bank’s analysts, the economy of Saudi Arabia will grow three-fold by 2050, and its population will increase by 73 percent. Krzysztof Woźniak, Head of International Subsidiaries Banking Department at HSBC Bank Polska, highlights that business attractiveness of the Middle East also depends on actions of authorities aimed at the diversification of economic structures and reduction of the reliance of region’s prosperity on the situation in the oil market.

– Local authorities invest, among others, in large-scale infrastructural projects, and use the support of foreign suppliers and contractors in their delivery. This is the opportunity for the Polish companies exporting capital goods, construction companies or consultants specializing in creating and managing engineering projects – explains Krzysztof Woźniak. Another concern related to conquering East-Asian markets are cultural differences and administrative requirements. Some markets, such as Saudi Arabia, are easier to enter, and others are tougher – but all obstacles may be overcome.

Robert Chmielewski, owner of Lactex – a company exporting dairy products, admits that many countries require the Halal certificate – confirming that the production is in line with Muslin religious standards. But he also adds that it is best to enter not via business centres such as: Dubai, Hong Kong or Singapore. — Our customers, who are middle men, have much easier access to those more closed countries. We do not have direct opportunities — explains Robert Chmielewski, who has traded in Asia for many years.

Cultural Framework

— The Middle East has its own unique features and conditions, but in some certain aspects it is no different from other regions where Polish companies operate. They include: adequate and thorough preparation of the expansion, or otherwise the project will be bound to fail — highlights Martin Reichel, Member of the Management Board of HSBC Bank Polska supervising Commercial and Global Banking Line.

In his opinion, entrepreneurs and businesses creating strategies for the entry to markets in this region should be aware of the fact that outlook on life and philosophy are of great importance in this part of the world, but it does not necessarily mean that the society is deeply traditional. However, he admits that offer of successful companies had been aligned with the cultural framework of Arab countries. The example may be the Polish cosmetic company – Inglot, which developed a breathable nail polish for Muslin women, which does not have to be removed before each prayer.

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