OCO Global hired to stimulate UK business investment into Dubai

01 June 2018 Consultancy.uk

Northern Ireland consulting firm OCO Global has been contracted to encourage British business investment into Dubai. The agreement sees the firm working to encourage UK companies worried over Brexit to chance their hand in the Middle Eastern economy, which has been seeking to diversify since a crash in oil prices.

As the British government continues to fail to provide assurances to business of how trade will be with the continent post-Brexit, many UK businesses are weighing up new markets, including South Asia, the Middle East and North America, in order to maintain international demand. The consulting industry is set to play a key role in this, as clients look for strategic help for such cross-border ventures, while global governments look to consultants to encourage investment in their markets.

Founded in 2001, OCO has spent the last 17 years in business, providing economic development solutions to leading organisations including JETRO, JobsOhio, Enterprise Florida, Invest Hong Kong, Invest in France, UNCTAD, IEDC and WAIPA. The trade and investment consultancy employs a multilingual team of over 60 consultants in offices in London, Paris, Frankfurt, Bogota, New York and Tokyo, alongside the firm’s headquarters in Belfast.

Most recently the firm was engaged by the UK Department of International Trade and Investment (DIT), with OCO working as an exclusive partner to support UK companies exploring expansion opportunities in North America. Similar to the role that Big Four firm PwC occupied with the DIT’s campaign relating to the Asia Pacific region, this sees OCO provide a wide range of trade support services to both new and experienced exporters, in order to help boost the UK’s overall export target.

OCO Global hired to stimulate UK business investment into Dubai

Now, OCO has signed an agreement with The Dubai Investment Development authority to drive British business investment into the United Arab Emirates. Since a crash in oil prices in the middle of the decade, the UAE and Dubai have been left reeling. The crash impacted on all areas of the economy, with the example of real estate prices taking a -10% hit for villas and a -9% hit for apartments showed how the currency fluctuations of an economy dependent on fossil fuels could see the national economy as a whole stagnate. The UAE is therefore keen to diversify its economy – something an influx of foreign investment from the likes of UK businesses would help achieve.

The agreement between the Dubai Investment Development Authority and Belfast-headquartered OCO covers sectors such as financial services, education, entertainment, hospitality, technology and healthcare. It expands on work done over the past four years by OCO’s sister company, the British Centres for Business (BCB), which has been working in partnership with Dubai FDI with a unique ‘soft landing’ incubator platform to encourage investment into Dubai by UK companies.

To date, through the BCB, OCO has supported more than 200 British companies with their overseas growth plans in the Middle East; 31 UK firms have availed of the Dubai incubator. With 138 of the Fortune 500 already having their MENA headquarters in Dubai, a 93% share amongst regional peers, the Emirate’s regional hub position is well established, as is its gateway status into South Asia, Central Asia and the Far East, bolstered by unrivalled transport connectivity.

Joe Hepworth, OCO Director Middle East, commented, “I’m delighted to finalise this with Dubai FDI which builds on the great cooperation we already have through the BCB since 2014. With our global reach and work promoting trade and investment around the world, we look forward to bringing our international channels and networks to bear to support Dubai FDI’s vision of attracting the very best companies into the UAE.”

Khalid Al Boom, Deputy CEO at DUBAI FDI, added, “This is a step closer towards the realisation of our vision of positioning Dubai on a global stage as a business opportunity for new initiatives and an essential base for successful business. It will pave the way for stronger collaboration between all parties involved with an end goal of facilitating smooth investments by UK companies in the emirate.”

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Newcastle consulting firm opens Baghdad office

05 April 2019 Consultancy.uk

A Newcastle-based consultancy has announced it will open its first office in Iraq. The news comes despite warnings that the area remains “high risk” for businesses.

16 years after the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the nation remains a shadow of its former self. The continued chaos wrought by the Iraq War – which eventually played a role in the rise to prominence of Daesh, further destabilising the region – means that even now, the nation’s capital is deemed to have the lowest quality of living in the world. According to a recent survey from Mercer, Baghdad ranked last overall – immediately below Bangui of the Central African Republic and Damascus in Syria – despite the other two being determined as the worst cities on the planet for personal safety.

However, as with the wider Middle East, the oil-rich state presents a lucrative destination to businesses willing to take the risk. To that end, a Newcastle recruitment consultancy has announced the opening of its first presence in Iraq’s capital city. Samuel Knight has taken the decision to open its Baghdad locale in order to grow its business in the Middle East.

Newcastle consulting firm opens Baghdad office

While businesses remain wary of the region, Samuel Knight specialises in recruiting talent in the energy and rail sectors, and in a release it said the new office would continue to focus on these areas. It will also allow the firm to make sure it abides by local compliance laws. The new location will be headed up by Haider Kadhim, Samuel Knight’s Iraq country manager, who will work as the first point of contact for clients and candidates. Representatives from the Department of Trade Industry are expected to attend a launch event for the office, which will be held this month.

Commenting on the new office,  a spokesperson for Samuel Knight said, “We probably don’t see it as a risk, but more of an opportunity, as we operate in the Middle East extensively already. We have contacts in place in the country location and with the consultants we have. We felt it was a great opportunity to expand into a country we are already doing work in. It means we have an on-the-ground team to help our clients. From our perspective, it is that we are looking to expand into new territories, but we are also supporting countries that are starting to redevelop after years of warfare.”

Steve Rawlingson, CEO at Samuel Knight, said, “Our aggressive five-year growth plan is manifesting at  an impressive rate, taking the company to exciting new territories. The team is working diligently to surpass expectations set out in the plan, and to ensure Samuel Knight is cemented as the leading global energy and rail recruitment specialist. Our Baghdad office will give us a distinctive edge over our competition and allow for more exciting business opportunities. Once the office becomes more established and client acquisition develops, we will certainly be adding more consultants and manpower in the city.”