Waterford native Richard Fitzgerald, a prominent new media entrepreneur, has been announced as a speaker at the upcoming Arab Irish Business Forum. The conference, set to take place on September 13th at the Mansion House in Dublin, aims to provide valuable insights and advice on exploring business opportunities beyond the UK and the EU. With speakers from both Ireland and the Arab states, this event is expected to be one of the largest gatherings of Arab Irish business interests in recent years.
Richard Fitzgerald’s journey in the Middle East began in 2012 when he left his senior advertising executive position. Three years later, he founded Augustus Media, which is responsible for publishing popular digital and online media brands such as Lovin Dubai, Lovin Saudi, and Smashi. Reflecting on his experience, Fitzgerald expressed his appreciation for the warm welcome he received upon arriving in the UAE. He emphasized the importance of understanding the cultural differences between the UAE and Ireland, particularly in terms of conducting business. Patience is key, as deals can take time to finalize, but once they do, responsiveness is crucial.
Fitzgerald is optimistic about the potential for Irish business in the Arab world, stating that the opportunities are vast and that we have only just begun to tap into them. He believes that there has never been a better time to explore what the region has to offer. Recent figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) support this sentiment, revealing that Irish exports to the Middle East and Gulf reached €1.46 billion in the first half of 2023. Notably, there have been significant increases in exports to Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia.
In addition to merchandise, the Arab Irish Chamber of Commerce in Dublin estimates that trade in services, valued at approximately €4 billion in 2022, will match the overall value of goods exported to the Arab states this year. This highlights the growing importance of the services sector in the Arab Irish business relationship. The Arab Irish Business Forum will feature a diverse range of speakers, including former Tourism chief Niall Gibbons, Emirates country manager Anita Thomas, COO of the Bahrain Stock Exchange Abdulla Adbin, Expo2020 technology head Mohammed Al Hashmi, economist Jim Power, Ian Cahill of Flahavan’s, and Ahmad Younis, CEO of the Arab Irish Chamber of Commerce.