The Hon. Philip Dalidakis MP, travel report, United Arab Emirates, February 2016

Minister The Hon. Philip Dalidakis MP
Portfolio Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade
Countries visited United Arab Emirates
Date of travel 15-23 February 2016
No. of official travel days
(including date of departure and date of return)
9 days
Number of accompanying ministerial staff 1
Accompanied by spouse in an official capacity No
Funding for the overseas trip was paid by
(list department/s or agency)
Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources
Air fares $17,483.82*
Accommodation $5,156.00*
Other expenses (includes surface travel and travel allowances) $7,622.94*
Travel cost for minister and staff $30,262.76*

*The above costs are not final and complete

Purpose of travel

The main purpose of my travel was to lead the Middle East Trade Mission to Gulfood, Dubai and to represent Victoria at meetings and events associated with the mission. This visit to the United Arab Emirates also provided an opportunity to strengthen relationships with key stakeholders within the country, in order to develop further trade and investment prospects for Victoria.

Benefits of travel to the State of Victoria

Providing strong government representation for the mission in this region is vitally important for the export of Victorian products, as Middle Eastern stakeholders view government support favourably. Victorian food and beverage companies that attended the mission also benefited through my highlighting of their export potential in media interviews, strategic meetings and supportive statements at mission events.

Gulfood is the world's largest annual food trade show, with almost 5000 exhibitors and with an estimated 90,000 visitors in 2016. Forty-one companies attended the Victorian government mission, to Gulfood, Dubai, with 26 taking space on the Victorian stand. The post-mission evaluation indicated that $550,000 of immediate sales were achieved by the  Victorian companies attending and anecdotal reports indicate that further strong trade outcomes are likely, with the companies following up many leads gained from the mission since returning.

A visit program organised by the Victorian Government Business Office in Dubai prior to the Gulfood trade show included both Emirates and Etihad Airlines, who are planning further global investment in flights and catering businesses, with may ultimately benefit Melbourne. I also met with 'Dubai South' management on airport and sustainable urban development, and government officials preparing for Dubai Expo 2020 and promoted Victoria's credentials in design, development and event management.

I visited Masdar Institute of Science and Technology and examined innovation in renewable and sustainable energy production and attended a meeting with the Dubai Museum of the Future, which is planning to support the process of innovation through design, technology prototyping and 'foresight'.  

In the meeting with government organisation, Hedayah, I discussed designing and implementing effective programs and policies to counter violent extremism. For these meetings, I highlighted Victoria's credentials in fields of sustainable urban design, innovation and training and development, for the benefit of Victoria's providers and also gained a wider understanding of supporting policy.

While in Abu Dhabi, I was received by His Highness, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development. In a general discussion, we spoke of the importance of trade and sharing experiences in education and knowledge.

The benefits of Victorian exporters being globally connected was ultimately demonstrated when I visited Spinneys' supermarket in Dubai and met with the general manager. The supermarket caters to the 'high end' consumer and stock Australian product, regarding it as a high quality. With a purchasing office in Melbourne and regular contact with the Victorian Government, supply from Victoria will remain a key focus for this supermarket in the future.

Next steps / follow up

Prompt follow-up has occurred with some of the companies I met with during the visit. The Victorian government has promoted catering opportunities with Emirates and Etihad to suitable product suppliers, particularly meat and cheese and this opportunity has been taken up, with companies registering with the airlines for supply. All companies and organisations visited on the mission will be thanked via letter, with many invited to visit Victoria.

Victorian companies have been surveyed on results from the mission, with sales data and feedback on mission activities gathered. Immediate sales of eggs, meat and healthy snacks have resulted. Some food and beverage companies are working with their potential buyers on supply of product to the Middle East, particularly on certification issues and deciding on suitable in-market distributors.

A meeting with Austrade's Senior Trade Commission for the Middle East and North Africa has been scheduled in April to discuss opportunities in the wider Middle East and to seek collaboration on further trade missions.

In order to follow up with organisations I met with on this visit  Victorian Government Business Office in Dubai has produced a Sustainable Development Directory, which will promote Victorian companies which offer services in design, construction, engineering, planning and associated services.

Page last updated: 20 July 2016