Spreading our wings and re-connecting

Kia ora and Asalaam Aleykum <<First Name>>,

Welcome to the March 2022 newsletter from the NZMEBC.

In recent times, each time that I sat down to write this introduction I have been hopeful that in the next newsletter I can say that we will be able to be together kanohi ki te kanohi, face to face soon.

I am so pleased that now is the time that I can say this. We at the NZMEBC welcome the stories from members and contributors who have, or are about to, re-connect in region. We are sure that this activity alone will strengthen relationships and boost trade. Please also reach out to us for additional opportunities to connect while in region.

We are also planning a kanohi ki te kanohi, face to face networking and refreshments event in Auckland in May, after Ramadan to celebrate a return to in person meeting. Keep an eye out for updates on this.

This month we bring you an action packed newsletter with a new event on Tax in the UAE and a recap of recent Ministerial activity in region. Watch out for upcoming events sharing insights from this activity.

Expo 2020 in Dubai is again a focus in this newsletter. It is fulfilling its promise of being the biggest event in the region. NZTE and NZ@Expo2020 have hosted some great sessions that are highly regarded in the media. NZ Story also has a great Agritech recap. More details can be found below.

We have shared updates on our recent activities below and have also provided insights from Andrew Perrier, Emirates and provide our last Covid-19 tracker update.

We would love to spotlight your business, check out the member spotlight opportunity below.

I encourage you to reach out to me and your Council Executive members if you would like any further information. We are here to help you and your business.

Upcoming events include
Doing business in the Middle East - UAE Tax Update
NZTE / MFAT partnerships updates
Dubai Expo 2020

Ngā mihi and Asalaam Aleykum, Andrew Short, Chair.

Member Spotlight: Could this be your business?

Do you have a Middle East business success story that you are itching to share with other members? Perhaps you are about to test a market entry strategy, or are well established and seeing results with a few lessons to share. We are always keen to hear what our members are up to in the Middle East and would love to share a profile of your business in our regular newsletter member spotlight section.


There is real benefit being featured in this section, with a higher than average comparable industry Newsletter open rate and recent spotlights resulting in a 25% click-through to find out more about member organisations.

Please reach out to our Council Executive if you would like to explore this opportunity.

Upcoming UAE Tax Seminar: hosted by the NZMEBC and EY

The New Zealand Middle East Business Council (NZMEBC) invites you to join Council member and EY New Zealand Partner, Brad Wheeler, as he facilitates a discussion with speakers from EY’s in-market UAE team to provide you with an update on the announced introduction in the UAE of a federal corporate tax, and other recent tax changes.

On behalf of the NZMEBC, we would like to thank Brad and his team at EY for sharing their insights with members.

When: Wednesday 13th April, 5:00pm to 6:00pm NZST / 09:00am to 10:00am GST

Where: Via Zoom (the link will be shared with registrants prior to the event)

Click here to register.

Register Now

MFAT Update: Minister of Trade and Export Growth, Hon Damien O’Connor on Regional visit

Picture of the Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon Nanaia Mahuta at the New Zealand Pavilion at Expo 2020

Minister of Trade and Export Growth & Minister of Agriculture, Hon Damien O’Connor and His Excellency Eng. Abdulrahman A. Al Fadhley, Saudi Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture

The Minister of Trade and Export Growth and Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor completed a successful visit to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and to Dubai, the United Arab Emirates this month.

During his Saudi visit - the first Ministerial level visit since 2016 - the Minister attended the 8th session of the Saudi Arabia – New Zealand Joint Ministerial Commission, where he discussed opportunities for growth in the bilateral relationship. Bilateral engagements included meetings with HE Dr Nayef Al-Hajra, Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council and meetings with Saudi Ministerial counterparts.

In the UAE, the Minister visited Expo 2020, met with Emirati Ministerial counterparts, held the 8th Joint Economic Commission with the UAE and signed a Memorandum of Arrangement on a strategic food security partnership with the UAE to cement our food security relationship and provide a platform to support expanded cooperation. While at Expo, MTEG also visited the pavilions of New Zealand, the UAE, Bahrain, and Oman.

The Minister was also pleased to engage with New Zealand businesses in both the UAE and Saudi Arabia, as part of a wider programme hosted by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.

NZTE Update: Leveraging Success at Expo 2020

Photo of Peter Chrisp, CEO, NZTE

Tiaki Restaurant, NZ Pavilion @ Expo 2020

The New Zealand Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai has now welcomed over a million visitors, including 30,000 to the Tiaki restaurant – both regularly highlighted in media as top places to visit at Expo.

The Pavilion’s hosting spaces, the Co-operative Room by Fonterra and the Tiaki restaurant, have hosted 90 events so far, enabling people to connect and learn about New Zealand as a nation that innovates to Care for People and Place.

NZTE’s Expo Business Leverage Programme showcased both our agritech strengths and our premium FMCG offerings in Dubai during February and March.

TeAratini participants on a stage

Hazel Jackson, Dr Mamdouh Alsharan and Sharl Liebergreen at the
Promote Greater Productivity of Local Livestock event @ Expo 2020

Other highlights included Expo 2020’s Food, Agriculture and Livelihoods Business Forum co-curated by New Zealand G2G, Minister Damien O’Connor’s visit to the UAE and Saudi Arabia (including a visit to see New Zealand’s research partnership with the International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture) and a meet the buyer programme connecting New Zealand FMCG exporters with local retail businesses.

Minister of Trade and Export Growth & Minister of Agriculture, Hon Damien O’Connor at a Discover FMCG event in Saudi Arabia

New Zealand Agritech at Expo: 7, yes Seven, New Zealand Agritech companies & Research Institutes touch down in the UAE

On 21 February, as part of Food, Agriculture and Livelihoods week, New Zealand co-curated a day-long business forum in partnership with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Expo 2022.

The event brought together researchers, scientists, government official and businesses together to discuss the pressing question of how we can grow food sustainably to meet future demand.

Click on this link or on the picture below to explore more.

Agritech and livelihoods week

Covid-19 cases across the region

This update is the last in our series of Covid-19 updates. With New Zealand opening back up to unrestricted travel between countries over the coming months the regional graph below shows that the peaks of infection due to the Omicron variant have passed in region, with New Zealand currently at peak infection.

The following graph may assist with in-market and go to market decision making. We also encourage consulting for advice when considering changes to current market approaches relating to in-person engagement in the region.

Covid-19 - Share of vaccinations by country from our world in data

Source: 29-Mar-2022

Emirates News

Emirates Expands Cargo Capacity with US $1 billion Investment

Emirates SkyCargo announced that it will induct two new Boeing 777Fs into its fleet in 2022 and also convert four of the airline’s Boeing 777-300ER passenger aircraft into freighters between 2023 and 2024.The airfreight division of Emirates signed a purchase agreement with Boeing for two new Boeing 777-F aircraft, which will be delivered in April and June 2022 respectively. The airline was the launch customer for the Boeing 777-F and the aircraft has been at the heart of the carrier’s operations since 2009. The addition of two new freighter aircraft will strengthen Emirates SkyCargo’s customer offering allowing for increased agility and flexibility in its operations.

Emirates SkyCargo has also signed an agreement with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) for the conversion of four Boeing 777-300ER passenger aircraft into full freighters. The agreement also includes an option for further Boeing 777-300ER conversions at a later stage. The conversion programme for the four aircraft will commence in early 2023 and is expected to conclude in 2024 with each aircraft taking up to an estimated five months for the process.

The converted freighters will provide up to 10 additional pallet positions over the Boeing 777-F production freighter allowing for transport of more low density cargo including e-commerce goods. They will boost the maindeck cargo capacity that Emirates SkyCargo can deploy on its global routes, with a particular focus on trade lanes where volumetric cargo loads tend to be high. The converted aircraft’s payload capabilities are very close to those of the Boeing 777-F production freighters and the twin-engine aircraft will be more efficient per tonne of cargo carried than the industry standard freighters.

Goods and Services Trade between New Zealand and The United Arab Emirates, Emirates SkyCargo a key supply chain partner

In September quarter 2021, New Zealand exported $203.15mn in goods and services to the UAE and imported $764.3mn. This resulted in a trade balance of $-561.15mn and a total trade value of $967.46mn.

Dairy ranked as the top valued export commodity, contributing 54% of total exports by value. Mineral fuels and oils ranked as the top valued imported commodity, contributing 92% of total imports by value. The value of imports increased by +280% on September 2020 quarter, and +4% on September 2019 quarter. The value of exports increased by +38% on September 2020 quarter, and +2.5% on September 2019 quarter.

The UAE currently ranks as NZ’s 10th largest two-way trading partner, and contributes 76% of trade between the GCC and NZ.

Emirates, a long term supporter of the NZMEBC

March In-market update: Andrew Perrier, Almusbah Group

KSA National Committee for Privatization and PPP

As I write this contribution to the NZMEBC newsletter, I am enroute to London to join the government delegation of the Saudi Arabia National Committee for Privatization and PPP who are in London looking for investors and industry experts to come and invest under the PPP framework created in Saudi Arabia. There are currently some 175 projects to be bid on by the private sector, from Environmental, utilities, Healthcare, Education, transport to Municipalities affairs and Haj and Umrah related projects, to name just a few.

Good opportunities for New Zealand companies to get involved in these PPP’s in the largest country in the region. Almusbah has been involved in aviation and Municipality PPP’s since before they got the acronym and it is great to see a proper governance network now in place that will also protect the investor rights.

Certainly, I am seeing first hand major changes in the tendering processes in KSA including transparent online opening of bids from portal submissions and more private sector experienced Saudi’s working in these state owned enterprises.

KSA Awarded best pavilion at Expo 2020

As Expo 2020 draws to close at the end of March, Saudi Arabia was awarded best pavilion at Expo 2020. For those of lucky enough to be in the region and get to visit, I am not surprised. Compared to some other countries (which I won’t mention) certainly the investment into technology to preview the changes happening in Saudi Arabia was well ahead of others that I saw.

Lydia Ko, Saudi Gulf Ambassador

Was a shame that due to testing positive for Covid-19, New Zealand golfer Lydia Ko who recently became a Saudi Golf Ambassador was unable to compete at the recent Ladies Invitational at Royal Greens this month. Hopefully we will see her back in KSA later in the year for the Aramco Team Series.

A photo of Andrew Perrier with Lydia Ko

Andrew Perrier and Lydia Ko

Grand scale demolition and development in Jeddah

One of the things you get to see in the GCC is the Infrastructure development on such a grand scale, but not often demolition on such a grand scale.

In Jeddah, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism has taken over and is demolishing much of the Al Balad area. As well as 64 other unplanned communities and slums in lower Jeddah, totalling 214 million square metres and pushing over half million residents to move different areas as it flattens these areas.

The speed at which the “rubbing out” is happening is amazing, even being in Jeddah for a few days I notice big swathes demolished by the time I leave.

The plan is to preserve the UNESCO areas and redevelop other areas, like Souq Wagif in Doha.

UAE shifts to Monday to Friday lunchtime work week

In the UAE, from January, we started a Monday to Friday lunchtime working week in line with most of the trading markets. Nearly all companies have shifted to the new work week. If you are lucky enough to work in the government in Sharjah, they have adopted the 4 day working week with a Friday - Sunday weekend.

These type of changes in the UAE show the competitive nature to capture companies’ regional headquarters between UAE and KSA and I am sure that there will be more to come as the UAE looks to stay one step ahead of KSA who is wanting to capture the expat market for the Saudi giga projects.

But working for a Sunday - Thursday company in KSA creates a bit of blur as to when the actual weekend is! Last week when I went to Riyadh on a Sunday morning, the flight was full, like Pre-Covid days with the PWC / McKinsey Sunday - Wednesday commuters. So, whilst some of have relocated to KSA, there are still many travelling back and forth.

UAE hiring of Women train and bus drivers

If your commute is on the Haramain Railway in the Makkah region or on a bus in Dubai, there is the positive hiring now of Women train drivers in KSA and women bus drivers in Dubai as part of the evolving region.

UAE development, currency swap and IPO news

The UAE is keeping one step ahead in the region with Ras Al Khaimah announcing it will be the first Emirate to its open a 1,000 room resort with a “gaming area” with Wynn’s from Las Vegas in opening in 2026.

The UAE recently announced the intent to do a currency swap of approximately USD$5b with the Turkish government, as well as a USD$10 billion fund to develop business with Turkey. A resurgence in the relationship between Turkey and the UAE is being seen, with a focus on developing greater trade between the two countries.

The Dubai Government recently announced to list via IPO some of the government assets with Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (DEWA) already with its prospectus in the market and Salik (the tolls road technology) being the next one to be released.

Meeting with the Hon. Damien O’Connor

It was great to meet with Hon Damien O Connor, the Minister of Trade at a recent NZTE event at the New Zealand Expo2020 pavilion. It was great talk to a Minister who seems to understand the opportunity and the changes going on in the region from his visit to KSA and UAE and hopefully this will see greater support coming from this government for companies who want to come and grow the region.

Hard border between Abu Dhabi and Dubai lifted

Finally, a few weeks ago the hard border between Abu Dhabi and Dubai was lifted for access to the Capital. That, along with the removal the requirement for face masks outdoors and the airport being back to normal business levels, post pandemic life is well underway as the UAE seems to be staying around a reported 350 cases per day. Which, considering the complete openness of the country is very low.

Ramadan Kareem.

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