Scots SMEs targeted to meet Saudi Arabian demand

SMALLER Scottish firms will this week be targeted by a high-level trade conference to meet demand for emerging technologies in Saudi Arabia.

Hosted by the London-based Middle-East Association (MEA), Opportunity Arabia is now in its 11th year, but Thursday’s meeting in Edinburgh marks the first time the event has been held in Scotland.

Between 50 and 100 firms are expected to meet with a line-up of representatives from the kingdom, including the secretary general for the Saudi Committee for International Trade. Senior figures from state-owned oil group Saudi Aramco and industrial giant Sabic will also be on hand.

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Peter Meyer, the newly-appointed chief executive of MEA, said: “There was a big request from the Saudis in that they wanted to engage with SMEs, and particularly Scottish ones.

“They see there is a lot of cutting-edge technology in the SMEs that they are having difficulty accessing, and would like us to help them with that.”

There is particular interest across the kingdom in the offshore, pharmaceutical and IT sectors. An increasing number of women going into business in Saudi Arabia has also helped fuel demand for training expertise.

There will also be an emphasis on encouraging smaller companies from the two countries to link up to help avoid the prohibitive cost of opening an off­ice abroad. Meyer said: “It is not just a question of selling your goods – it is increasingly about forming joint ventures and similar arrangements.” The event will be followed by a Nov­ember trade mission to Saudi Arabia, which boasts the biggest economy in the whole of the Middle-East and North Africa.