Middle East Opportunities

Oral Answers to Questions — Economy – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 6 December 2021.

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Photo of Maurice Bradley Maurice Bradley DUP 2:30, 6 December 2021

T10. Mr M Bradley asked the Minister for the Economy whether, following his recent visit to the Middle East, he has identified any opportunities for Northern Ireland. (AQT 1870/17-22)

Photo of Gordon Lyons Gordon Lyons DUP

Yes, absolutely. The visit to Dubai a couple of weeks ago demonstrated a range of opportunities that exist for Northern Ireland. First, there are opportunities to link our further and higher education systems closer together and to make sure that we make the most of the links that we have established in recent years. Secondly, there are huge opportunities for Northern Ireland companies that are exporting not just to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) but across the Middle East. During our visit, we heard again and again of the real opportunities that exist with Saudi Arabia. I was pleased to meet representatives from Saudi Arabia. The outlook is really positive for new opportunities that exist in cyber, AI, fintech, agri-tech and med-tech. There are many, many opportunities for us there, and it is important that we are out in those markets and that we are making the most of those opportunities.

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

A brief supplementary question in response, please, from Maurice Bradley.

Photo of Maurice Bradley Maurice Bradley DUP

I thank the Minister for his answer. Will the Minister be giving much financial support, especially to the higher education establishments, in order to attract students from Saudi Arabia?

Photo of Gordon Lyons Gordon Lyons DUP

Yes, absolutely. We have fantastic opportunities not only to partner with other further and higher education establishments in the wider Middle East but to get in more international students, particularly from that region. The connections that we are building up in the United Arab Emirates will help to get more of those students here in Northern Ireland.

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

Members, time for questions to the Department for the Economy is up. Take your ease until we move on to the next item of business, which is questions to the Department of Education.

(Mr Principal Deputy Speaker [Mr Stalford] in the Chair)