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Market Opportunity – Gulf Cooperation Council

As a growing market with rising demand, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries present key agri-food opportunities. Our Canadian Trade Commissioner expert helps you discover important trends and considerations.

Video transcript

[Upbeat, Middle Eastern music starts.]

[Fade up to a shot of a Middle Eastern city at night. A red bar slides over the image. The title of the video appears on the bar.]

Text on screen: Canadian Agri-Food Trade Commissioners

[The text slides to the left, replaced by new text.]

Text on screen: Market Opportunity Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)

[Dissolve to white, then dissolve to a shot of Andrew Maharaj in front of a white background.]

Voice of Andrew Maharaj: The GCC is comprised of six different markets.

[Cut to an animation of the Middle East seen from space.]

United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Oman.

[Cut to a time lapse of busy highways in Dubai.]

Text on screen: 50 million

Together, the region has about 50 million people...

[Cut to a shot of an enormous crowd of people. The text dissolves into new text.]

Text on screen: 2.5% annual growth

... and it's growing at a rate of 2.5% on average every year.

[Dissolve to white, then dissolve to a shot of a boat passing Dubai at sunset.]

The GDP per capita is amongst the highest in the world.

[The upbeat music stops, replaced by new Middle Eastern music.]

[Cut to a close-up of Andrew Maharaj.]

Text on screen: Andrew Maharaj Trade Commissioner

My name is Andrew Maharaj, and I'm the regional agriculture counsellor for Agriculture and Agrifood Canada, based in Dubai. 

[Cut to a shot of Dubai at night.]

[Cut to a shot of a young couple window shopping.]

There's a lot of purchasing power. It's a very young population.

[Cut to a shot of two young Emirati women sitting on a couch taking a selfie.]

Text on screen: Know the Market

Most of the population is their late twenties, early thirties.

[Cut to a shot of an Arabic businessman and a Western expat looking at a tablet.]

They have often, you know, studied abroad, and they have western tastes.

[Dissolve to white, then dissolve to a shot of the Middle East from space, lit by communication lines.]

The six GCC countries import about 80% of their food needs.

[Cut to a time lapse of a busy Dubai marina.]

Going away from this idea of self-sufficiency...

[Cut to an aerial shot of greenhouses in an arid landscape.]

...they're phasing that out because of scarce resources.

[Cut to a shot of a truck driving.]

So that opens up new opportunities for Canadian exports on the primary side.

[The Middle Eastern music switches to more upbeat Middle Eastern music.]

[Cut to a time lapse of Dubai at night.]

Text on screen: Products in Demand

Most of the trade that we do to the Middle East is pulses, canola, and then wheat.

[Cut to a shot of a person scooping chickpeas into a bag.]

[Cut to a shot of a harvester harvesting a canola field.]

[Cut to a shot of wheat blowing in the wind.]

[Cut to a shot of a Middle Eastern couple eating. The woman moves to take food from the man's plate.]

They understand the quality of Canadian primary commodities...

[Cut to a shot of Middle Eastern businesspeople walking through a courtyard.]

...so it's not a market that we need to develop so much.

[Cut to a shot of three businesspeople working with a tablet.]

We just need to be present in servicing the customers that we have.

[Cut to a shot of Andrew Maharaj.]

We can get a lot of our nice niche products: maple syrup, honeys, fresh fruit like cherries and blueberries, products like beef, for example.

[Cut to a shot of syrup filling a maple-leaf-shaped jar.]

[Cut to a shot of blueberries on a bush.]

[Cut to a shot of beef cooking on a grill.]

We have very good beef in Canada, great production.

[Cut to a shot of a knife and fork cutting a piece of beef on mashed potatoes.]

We need more halal production in beef to satisfy the needs of this market. Halal production is something that's new in Canada.

[Cut to a shot of Andrew Maharaj.]

We have some halal production, but not nearly enough to satisfy the Muslim world.

[Cut to a shot of a Western businessman and Middle Eastern businessmen talking.]

There's a growing demand there for high quality halal products, and so that's a big opportunity...

[Cut to a shot of Andrew Maharaj.]

...but they need to be aware of what the regulations are and how to get their products ready for export to that market.

[Cut to a shot rising over a wheat field at sunrise.]

One thing Canada does really, really well is niche, healthy products, and this is a huge trend in the GCC...

[Cut to a shot of Andrew Maharaj.]

...so a lot of people are turning towards things like gluten free, organic, low calorie...

[Cut to a series of shots of healthy foods -- a cutting board with cheese, chickpeas, oil, herbs and spices; black lentils being poured into a pot with tomatoes and onions; a carrot being dipped into hummus; a shot of yogurt and final a shot of a mother feeding a baby with a spoon.]

...so if we can get some of those types of products, where we do an incredible job producing, we have a huge potential market.

[The Middle Eastern music ends, replaced by upbeat business music.]

[Cut to a shot of a Middle Eastern woman working at a desk.]

Text on screen: Be Prepared

The GCC countries are really working hard to implement regulations that address some very important challenges.

[Cut to a shot of Andrew Maharaj.]

Things like legitimizing halal...

[Cut to a shot of a busy Arabic marketplace.]

...ensuring product labeling meets the needs of the local market.

[Cut to a shot of a man shopping in a grocery store.]

A lot of companies are not used to Arabic labeling on products, but it's a must for the GCC: production and expiry dates on products as opposed to just “best-before.” So these are adjustments that they need to make for their products.

[Cut to a shot of Middle Eastern businessmen shaking hands.]

They also have to understand the business culture in the GCC.

[Cut to a shot of a Middle Eastern woman using a tablet.]

You can't just do business from Canada. You've got to be in the market.

[Cut to a shot of a Western man greeting two Middle Eastern businessmen.]

Text On Screen: Build Your Relationships.

You've got to build relationships with your importers if you want to be successful.

[Cut to a shot of Andrew Maharaj.]

Join the mission! There are missions coming into Dubai...

[Cut to a shot of a couple by the water looking at a phone.]

...and it's not just for Dubai, they'll visit other areas in the region.

[Cut to a shot of Andrew Maharaj.]

It's a great opportunity to come in and do some business meetings, explore the market.

[Cut to a shot of a Middle Eastern spice market.]

We also do promotional events where you can do tabletops and display your products to chefs or importers.

[Cut to a rotating shot of baklava on a plate.]

[The screen dissolves to white, then dissolves to a shot of Andrew Maharaj.]

We are the source for qualified contacts.

[Cut to a shot of a Western man laughing and talking with Middle Eastern businessmen.]

We make the introductions, and you take the conversation further once we make those introductions.

[Cut to a shot of businesspeople and a function, listening to a woman speak.]

We're there to support with any follow-up, and help support Canadian companies that want to target the market there.

[Cut to a shot of a man slicing up meat in a food truck.]

The companies are very passionate about what they do...

[The camera zooms in on the cook's hands, then the shot cuts to a baker's hands stretching out dough.]

...and I love just learning from them. Learning about what makes their product unique...

[Cut to a shot of Andrew Maharaj.]

...and how they got into making the products that they're making...

[Cut to a shot of a blurry crowd walking through the street. A red bar fades in from the left, containing text.]

Text on screen: tradecommissioner.gc.ca

... and it gives me great gratification to introduce them to new opportunities in the market and see them take those forward into success stories.

[The text on screen changes.]

Text on screen: Contact Us Today

[The red bar slides off to the right. The screen dissolves to white, then dissolves to the Canada work mark.]

Text on screen: (c) Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food (2017)

[Business music fades out.]

[Fade to black.]

Visit our Middle East and Africa market intelligence section for reports on this market.

Find out how the Agriculture and Food Trade Commissioner Service can help you succeed in international markets.

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