Jaclyn Symes MP - travel report - United Arab Emirates, 14 - 18 February 2019


Jaclyn Symes MP


Minister for Agriculture

Minister for Regional Development

Minister for Resources 

Countries visited

United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Date of travel

14-18 February 2019

No of official travel days
(including date of departure and date of return)
Number of accompanying Ministerial Staff 1
Accompanied by spouse in an official capacity No
Funding source Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions
Air fares (including taxes and fees) $16,839*
Accommodation (including taxes and fees) $2,878*
Other expenses (includes surface travel and travel allowances) $2,782*
Travel cost for minister and staff $22,499*

*The above costs are not final and complete

Purpose of travel

The key purpose of my travel was to lead a delegation of 50 Victorian businesses to the world's largest annual food and beverage trade show, Gulfood, Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

As part of my visit, I also met with significant business leaders in the region to promote the State's world-class agriculture sector and explore opportunities for new partnerships. Being my first visit to the region, key government meetings also provided me with an overview of food and agricultural business opportunities and the strong links between our two economies.

The visit was also an occasion to be briefed on the Commonwealth Government's forward program in the region and discuss how Victoria can get involved and capitalise on emerging global business opportunities.

Benefits of travel to the State of Victoria

The visit strengthened the significant relationships established with the UAE community over Minister led trade missions and supported the ongoing activities of the Victorian Government Trade and Investment office in the region.

My attendance at Gulfood afforded Victorian businesses greater profile and access to key decision makers. This year, Gulfood attracted more than 98,000 attendees from 193 countries and I was able to brief His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance about the Victorian delegation and local products and produce on display. My visit and the large Victorian delegation also attracted significant positive media interest across the region in both print (Al Bayan, Al Khaleej, Zawya, Gulf365, Janbaaz, Al Press, Mirage News, Dot Gulf) and radio (Dubai Eye) news.

I actively supported Victorian businesses participating in Gulfood. The Victorian participants made up more than half of the Australian companies exhibiting there. This cemented the global reputation of Victorian producers as exporters and suppliers of some of the world's cleanest, greenest and safe food products. Victorian brand Health Lab won the Gulfood Award for the 'Most Innovative Health & Wellness Product'. Some early outcomes for Victorian businesses as a result of participation include: Picnic Dairy, a SME based in Melbourne's north is now supplying organic yogurt products to Organic Foods & Café in Dubai; and Geelong based Sticky Balsamic have finalised an order for their products into the UAE.

Feedback from companies indicated it was of benefit for me to spend time with them at both the Victorian Government welcome event and the Austrade industry networking event (delivered in collaboration with Global Victoria, Meat Livestock Australia and Horticulture Australia) to highlight the importance of the Middle East and North Africa region, which now accounts for $1.1 billion of Victoria's food and fibre exports in 2017-18, an increase of 22 per cent from the year prior. The events also provided an opportunity to highlight the services and programs of the Victorian Government Trade and Investment office in Dubai and promote several key activities including upcoming Global Table – the largest food business event that will be staged in Australia, with more than 5,000 participants in September this year.

Reiterating the Government's commitment to working with industry partners such as Meat and Livestock Australia, I attended their annual networking event to hear firsthand about how the Government can support the continuation of export growth for Victorian red meat with export value up by 36 per cent and volume up 26 per cent on 2016-17.

I was briefed by the Australian Consul-General and Senior Trade Commissioner in Dubai and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Commissioner General, Expo 2020 Dubai on upcoming opportunities in the region. I was also briefed on market access issues for the Middle East region by the Department of Agriculture Consul based in Dubai.

My meeting with Her Excellency Mariam Al Mehairi, UAE Minister for Future Food Security gave me an opportunity to discuss areas of mutual interest including market trends, food security, agricultural technology and opportunities for scientific exchange, which may benefit Victoria through collaborative projects and inward investment.

I visited Spinney's and Choithrams, two supermarket chains in Dubai, and also the Emirates Catering facility to witness firsthand how Victorian products are positioned in the market. The site visits allowed me to reinforce Victoria's image for clean, green and high-quality produce to senior purchasing managers and invite them to visit the Victorian stands during Gulfood and also visit Victoria in September to be part of future food and beverage related inbound trade missions and activities.

Next Steps / Follow Up

My Department will follow up with the Victorian companies that participated at Gulfood to ensure they capitalise on the export opportunities explored at Gulfood.

The Victorian Government Trade and Investment (VGTI) office in Dubai will follow up with major buyers, investors, government and business leaders met during the visit to encourage a strong delegation from the region to visit Victoria and participate in the inaugural Global Table event in September this year.

A number of Victorian businesses have already secured contracts to support the delivery of Expo 2020. We will work with them to promote Victoria's industry capabilities and ensure that our businesses are well placed to win new export deals and showcase the best industry strengths the State has to offer.

Page last updated: 29 July 2019