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Mike Hogan, regional manager for the Middle East and North Africa region, says things are moving a little faster in that part of the world but there is still some caution being exercised

Mike Hogan, regional manager for the Middle East and North Africa region, says things are moving a little faster in that part of the world but there is still some caution being exercised

AP/PA Images

Mike Hogan, regional manager for the Middle East and North Africa region, says things are moving a little faster in that part of the world but there is still some caution being exercised

The world is still battling with an invisible enemy but while Covid-19 hasn't been eradicated, the global economy needs to get back on track and to this end, most countries are slowly lifting restrictions and returning to some sort of normality.

Mike Hogan, regional manager for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, says things are moving a little faster in that part of the world but there is still some caution being exercised.

"I am currently in Dubai, where the city is reawakening after the Covid-19 crisis," he says. "We locked down a little bit earlier here than in Ireland, so that means we are opening up a bit sooner as well. As of today, shopping malls, retail and entertainment facilities and healthcare have all opened, albeit at a reduced capacity due to social distancing.

"In relation to travel, the airports are open, but they are not operating at a full capacity and there are still certain restrictions in place for entering the UAE which will be gradually unwound throughout the month of July."

The regional manager says while no one has been untouched by the crisis, Irish companies have been doing the right thing by keeping in touch with their clients overseas.

"Like everywhere else in the world, the past few months have been tough, and the UAE has been affected by Covid-19 in a very, very serious way," he says.

"But throughout that time, we have been helping clients to connect with their end users here, reminding them at all stages of the value of communication. Nature abhors a vacuum, so it is of key importance to remain in contact with your end users as this is highly appreciated by them. It's safe to say that anyone can do business during good times, but the mark and the calibre of our service providers is apparent as they continue to provide service during these difficult times.

"But it hasn't all been bad news, as there have been certain sectors which have adapted to the new normal way of doing business and are doing quite well."

Hogan says that ICT "reflects the new norm" in terms of how people transact business and in a post-Covid-19 world, there are opportunities available.

"Healthcare is, of course, a key constituent," he says. "Supply chain is also a consideration because here in the UAE, people want to shorten the supply chain and not be too reliant on the traditional longer-distance sources like China - so they are looking to maintain and grow stocks in country where possible.

"Food security is also a big item on the agenda here, as is fintech and the payment infrastructure around that - so there are opportunities for Enterprise Ireland clients to capitalise on the changes in the market here.

"Throughout the recent period we have already seen a number of our clients win orders in healthcare, particularly in the delivery of medical solutions and necessary equipment to combat Covid-19 but also in terms of facilitating ICT solutions which help businesses maintain their continuity through what has been a very difficult period for everyone."

And while countries in the region are reopening at different speeds, Hogan says Enterprise Ireland clients should start looking towards the future.

"Although UAE is ahead of the curve here, we are not anticipating a massive change in terms of clients coming to the market until at least the final quarter of the year," he says.

"But in the meantime, it's all about webinars, a lot about reaching out to clients and a lot about thinking about the new normal and how you deliver your product and service as we move toward the end of the year."

The Middle East and North Africa entered lockdown before Ireland, so countries in the region are opening up at a quicker pace.

Some travel restrictions remain in place, but most retail, healthcare and entertainment facilities are back to normal business, while maintaining social distancing measures.

Irish companies doing business in the region should keep in contact with end users and maintain open lines of communication.

Some sectors - such as healthcare, food security and ICT - have remained buoyant and business is moving well in those areas.

 

At a glance

The Middle East and North Africa entered lockdown before Ireland, so countries in the region are opening up at a quicker pace.

Some travel restrictions remain in place, but most retail, healthcare and entertainment facilities are back to normal business, while maintaining social distancing measures.

Irish companies doing business in the region should keep in contact with end users and maintain open lines of communication.

Some sectors — such as healthcare, food security and ICT — have remained buoyant and business is moving well in those areas.

Sunday Indo Business