Growth Sectors

Aviation & Travel Technology

The Gulf States are one of the world’s leading aviation markets, owing to the presence of some of the world’s fastest-growing airlines including Emirates, Etihad, Qatar Airways, Air Arabia, Royal Jordanian, Saudia and Gulf Air. The infrastructure needed to serve these rapidly expanding airlines is being put in place to cope with tens of millions of passengers every year.

Growth of the aviation sector in the region is supported by the increasing population with high disposable income, government support, the large expatriate population, the favorable geographic location and the growing tourism sector. The Middle East is predicted to become the largest wide body market in the next 20 years, with an anticipated 7 per cent of global air traffic by 2030.

  • In the Middle East, two million jobs and around $116 billion of GDP are supported by aviation with plans to expand and modernize airports region wide. This rapid progression has led to the requirement for innovative technology to efficiently manage increasingly congested airspace throughout the GCC region.
  • Numerous Irish aviation & traveltech companies have created long-lasting business relations with major Gulf carriers and airports in the past decade.
  • Ireland’s strong reputation in low-cost flying, aircraft leasing, duty free retailing and engineering can be leveraged to open up opportunities for other Irish companies in the sector.

Opportunities for Irish companies

  • Growing number of airport expansions planned and under way – Al-Maktoum Airport to allow traffic of 26.5m passengers by 2025 & modernization of Saudi Arabia’s 27 airports to be completed over the next 5 years.
  • Growing popularity of low-cost carriers.
  • Steady growth of the aviation industry leading to the development of a domestic MRO market.
  • Attracting and maintaining the right level of talent, skills and technical expertise in this specialized industry.
  • Keenness of airlines and airports in the GCC to become more technology driven and be seen as leaders in their industry.
  • Growing urgency to address security issues in aviation.

Project Leads – Q4 2017

Iran Airports - $70mil Grant for Development of Iran Airports

Oman Air Traffic – Qatar Airways to Boost its Number of Flights to Sohar



Gulf countries have taken on several large scale projects in the coming years which are opening doors for construction opportunities particularly in terms of strategic infrastructure projects. As the GCC strives to reduce its dependency on hydrocarbons, the construction sector will benefit from the necessity for economic diversification. The UAE and Qatar have been the most pioneering amongst GCC countries in terms of prioritizing non-oil initiatives. Qatar is in process of massive infrastructure development after being awarded the 2022 FIFA World Cup, including the building of 8 stadiums, transportation, and an entire city. Likewise Dubai is set to host the Expo 2020, which will require the extension of the Dubai metro and roads, as well as the construction of the Expo venue itself. The region has emerged as a tourist hub which is pushing the development of retail venues, entertainment parks, and hospitality.

  • 6.6 per cent projected growth for the UAE construction market in 2016 leading up to Expo 2020
  • Etihad Rail – railway between Dubai and Abu Dhabi 
  • Total value of rail projects across the Gulf region is projected to be USD 79bn
  • Mall of the World in Dubai, projected spend US$ 6.8 billion
  • Kuwait is implementing the Nine Hospital Expansion Project, anticipated to add 5,000 beds to the existing capacity.
  • Dubai is constructing up to 20 theme parks to attract 20m tourists per year by 2020

Opportunities for Irish companies

  • Complex construction projects such as data centres, food processing sites, airport expansions, social infrastructure and hospitals are the kinds of deals where Irish companies can add value.
  • The Irish construction sector is regarded as an international leader in terms of competitiveness and innovation, and it can boast a global footprint of projects.
  • The internationalisation of the Irish construction industry has led to Irish contractors and product manufacturers supplying innovative solutions to recent international landmark projects such as: Gulf, Caspian Sea and Gorgon Projects; Doha International Airport; Wyeth Biopharma Plant, Ireland; Sochi Winter Olympics 2014; Global Data Centres for Amazon, Google and Microsoft.
  • Lack of know-how in the region gives opportunities for Irish construction companies in areas such as project management, construction management, consulting engineering and environmental engineering.
  • If a site will need to operate on a 24/7 basis or has to include elements such as operating theatres or production lines, Irish companies can address those requirements more effectively.
  • Need for cleantech expertise, particularly around water management given its scarcity and the country’s growing population.

Project Leads – Q4 2017

Oman Agritech – Builder Hired for Oman's $260m Mega Dairy Project

Public Transport Development in Egypt - European Investment Bank to Provide €255mil for Cairo Metro Upgrade


Energy Solutions

Regardless of low oil prices, the Middle East is increasing its oil production in order to remain the world’s largest oil producing region. The oil industry is witnessing a new era of oil prices which will open doors for disruptive technologies in terms of reducing costs, increasing reliability, and promoting safety.

 The Middle East is gradually shifting its focus to solar energy. Dubai has bourgeoned as a leader in the solar field, with a renewables target of 25% by 2030. Numerous solar parks are under construction throughout the region; both Qatari and UAE governments are keen to build a sustainable image of their cities in the build up to the Expo 2020 and the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

  • 11 refinery projects planned - $7.9bn spend predicted for 2016-2019 as market diversifies from upstream focus
  • 67 Petrochemical projects planned in the Middle East e.g. Sadara Chemical Company – Saudi
  • Significant increase in construction of pipe networks:
    • Onshore pipelines: $34bn CAPEX 2016-19
    • Offshore pipelines: $5.5bn CAPEX 2016-19
  • Key projects: offshore projects in Qatar and UAE as well as Qatar Turkey Onshore Pipeline
  • Dubai’s Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park to produce 5,000 MW by 2030 with a predicted total spending of $13.6bn

Opportunities for Irish companies

  • Some of the categories in which Irish companies have proven capabilities include Engineering Consultancy, Data Monitoring & Management, Environmental Monitoring & Control, Facilities Management, Process Engineering, Safety & Security, Recruitment, Specialist (M&E) Contractors & Wireless Communication.
  • Operational efficiency improvements: tender management, equipment tracking (availability, location, repair), incident reporting, reducing the administrative burden, crisis management, brand protection, corporate analysis monitoring and underwater imaging
  • Technologies from sectors such as aerospace, defense and, ICT can be transferred to be used in the Oil & Gas field.
  • The GCC countries are facing a major threat of depleting water sources. Population growth and high desalination costs have highlighted the urgency to tackle the looming water shortages in the Gulf. Governments are keen to explore solutions for the sourcing and management of water supply.

Project Leads – Q4 2017

Iran Solar Power - Renewables Investor Quercus Plans $600mil Iran Solar Project

Egyptian Energy Project – Egypt Signs Three Oil & Gas Exploration Projects Worth $79mil


The United Arab Emirates is the dominant player in financial services in the Gulf, thanks to the presence of the Dubai International Financial Centre which has acted as a magnet for infrastructure, services and skilled staff. There are 46 commercial banks operating in UAE; a mix of local and international players. The market is competitive, with many international banks, investment and legal firms operating there. In addition, a large number of solution providers and vendors have Middle East hubs in the UAE.

  • The total Gulf Co-Operation Countries investment pool has been estimated at $2.8 trillion
  • There are 50 Ultra High Net Worth Arab Families in GCC, representing $251.87 billion in investable assets
  • Abu Dhabi’s financial district is now operational and competes for asset management services with DIFC in Dubai
  • National Bank of Abu Dhabi will be the largest bank by assets ($170bn) in the MENA region after its merger with FGB, followed by Qatar National Bank
  • There are 25 financial investment companies, and sovereign wealth funds such as ADIA
  • Qatar’s banking sector consists of 15 commercial banks, including seven locally-owned banks that account for around 80 per cent of the sector’s total assets
  • Qatar competes with Bahrain and the UAE for financial services particularly in Islamic finance

Opportunities for Irish companies

  • The UAE is the main region of focus for Irish companies looking to do business in the Gulf. This is mainly concentrated on financial software for banks and investment institutions, along with payment systems.
  • Local banks in the UAE have the budget and need for technology and service solutions around mobile banking, information and data security, offerings in governance, risk and compliance, anti-money laundering and ‘know your customer’ systems as well as cash payment, and payments technology.
  • The UAE’s Smart Government initiative launched the mWallet platform to make mobile payments between any two parties, with 16 banks as equity partners.
  • A competitive environment is pushing banks to close physical branches, which opens opportunity for e-commerce solutions and digital technologies that assist the customer journey through mobile.

Project Leads – Q4 2017

Fintech Hub of the GCC - Central Bank of Bahrain Announces Regulatory Sandbox for Fintech Startups

Financial innovation a focus in Iran 2025 strategy -  Iran Fintech Overview

ICT & Digital Technologies

One of the top three fastest-growing IT markets in the world, ICT spending in the Middle East is projected to reach $212.9 billion in 2016, registering a growth of 3.7 per cent compared to 2015. United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are the region’s biggest markets for ICT business, while Qatar is one of the fastest-growing markets.

There are 60 Irish telecom solution providers currently active in the Gulf markets, with a growing number of companies selling to sectors such as energy, travel and tourism, mobile marketing, advertising and education. Other opportunities exist for specialists in information security, e-health, transport management, machine-to-machine communication and gaming software. With media free zones in Abu Dhabi & Dubai, the UAE has become a hub for media production companies and broadcasters.

 Mobile platform technologies which enable the transfer of data wirelessly are becoming prevalent in smart cities such as Masdar City in Abu Dhabi and Qatar’s Energy City. Numerous government services are shifting to mobile, in line with Dubai’s “smart city” initiative.

  • The UAE’s Vision 2020 includes the goal to increase tourism by 10 million visitors to 20 million per annum through the expansion of hospitality, retail, and conference centers. This is in turn generating demand for event technologies and digital marketing solutions.
  • Leaving aside the telecoms sector, spending on IT projects across the GCC alone is forecasted to exceed $32bn
  • The UAE’s ICT spending is anticipated to increase by 4.5 per cent, as a result of growth in software and preparations for Dubai Expo 2020
  • Qatar’s total private sector ICT spending is projected to increase to approximately $ 2.8bn by 2019

Opportunities for Irish companies


  • The region’s software market is being driven by areas such as security and storage management.
  • Strong IT demand is expected from vertical industries such as banking and Government, and as Gulf States continue to develop the non-oil GDP part of their economies, increased reliance on IT will happen to spur this growth.
  • Public sector investments to improve smart services for government, education and health care services will be the main drivers for ICT growth in the region.
  • The numerous smart-city projects particularly in Dubai will increase machine-to-machine connections and adoption of the Internet of Things (IOT).


Project Leads - Q4 2017

UAE Leisure Industry –Vox Cinemas Plans Major Gulf Expansion with 330mil Investment

Life Sciences

Healthcare investment is increasing throughout the GCC with a projected 12.1 per cent CAGR from $40.3 billion in 2015 to $71.3 billion in 2020 (Alpen Capital). The demand for healthcare in the GCC is projected to rise by 240 per cent over the next 20 years. The region is facing a variety of healthcare challenges including providing sufficient hospital and primary care facilities to a growing population and the prevalence of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular ailments.

The GCC has strong ambitions to be recognised as an international healthcare hub and many governments are in the process of overhauling and streamlining their healthcare services.  In line with a rapid population growth, increasing life expectancy and growing affluence the GCC’s healthcare sector is set to experience healthy growth over the next four years.

In order to ease the growing pressure on the healthcare system, the GCC governments are injecting huge funds as well as encouraging private sector participation to build hospitals and clinics, upgrade the existing infrastructure, and match the quality of services offered in developed countries. This includes investing heavily in technological advancements as well as rolling out mandatory health insurance schemes to further accelerate the growth of the healthcare sector.

Various super-projects being rolled out across the region include the staggering US$6.7 billion King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Security Forces Medical Complex in Saudi, the $1.5 billion Sultan Qaboos Medical City in Oman, Burjeel Medical City in Abu Dhabi and 35 healthcare projects spread across the Northern Emirates. The boom in healthcare investment is creating new opportunities for construction firms, facilities operators, and suppliers to the healthcare sector.

  • Demand for hospital beds in the GCC is projected to grow at 2.3 percent CAGR to 113,925 beds in 2020, representing an additional requirement of more than 12,000 beds in the next four years
  • The UAE are investing heavily in healthcare technology in an ambition to attract 500,000 medical tourists by 2020
  • Qatar has the highest spend on healthcare per capita in the world and investment in eHealth represents a key pillar of its current National Health Strategy
  • The WHO predict 30% of the GCC population will have diabetes or pre-diabetes by 2030
  • Up to 80 per cent of medical staff in some hospitals and clinics are from outside the region and have been trained in more than 50 different countries
  • There are nearly 350 hospital projects under various stages of development around the region, of which almost 70 projects are worth more than $100 million each


Opportunities for Irish companies

  • Ireland’s life sciences sector is seen as one of the most dynamic and vibrant sectors in Europe and it is one of the leading exporters from this country.
  • Ireland is globally recognized as a Centre of Excellence and world class innovation and Irish companies have a strong track record and reputation in the healthcare sector across the Gulf States, ranging from medical device providers to health IT specialists, and diagnostics companies.
  • The opportunity also crosses over into construction, as the levels of investment required for various Gulf States’ healthcare systems call for many new hospitals and medical facilities as well as HR and training solutions providers to meet the shortfall of skilled medical staff.

Project Leads – Q4 2017

Sheikh Khalifa Central Hospital in Fujairah - UAE Approves Funding for New $330mil Projects