The EU-GCC Trade and Business Cooperation Facility runs from 2014-2017 and has held many events in this period. Please find ready to download material from the events in the list below.

Cleantech Business Catalogue – How To Do Business in the GCC

Private sector development has proven the most effective way of supporting sustainable economic growth. Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) have a demonstrated positive impact on household income levels, job creation, inclusive economic growth and improved competitiveness. Research estimates the GCC renewable energy targets to result in 140,000 jobs annually. Simultaneously, an overwhelming majority of European businesses are small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), and supporting European SMEs establishing in the GCC would therefore contribute in a positive and resourceful way to the economic diversification and development of the GCC. However, it is also clear that the majority of foreign companies in the GCC are still large companies. This is a result of many factors, mainly the need for large initial capital investments, a trustworthy network and a lengthy initiation phase.

The catalogue includes case stories from European SMEs doing business in the GCC, investment funds and GCC companies operating with European suppliers to highlight the business opportunities in the GCC. The catalogue does not aim to give the full picture or a step-by-step guide to doing business in the GCC, however, it will present a few ways and approaches to do just that.

Fashion masterclass on innovation and sustainability
October 12, 2017 at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Kuwait City, Kuwait


The fashion industry pose great potential for the economic diversification of the Gulf-states whilst having a huge impact on employment and empowerment of young women in the region. One of the greater constraints for developing the GCC fashion industry is the lack of institutional support for young designers and strong knowledge centers. Yet, the existing regional design school each year establish more and larger design classes to meet the great demand and interest from new students. This proves, that the fashion industry has great potential to grow and become a regional export success.

Sustainable fashion is a novel topic in the GCC, that the regional design schools would like to explore further. Design School Kolding, a Danish design school established in 1967, has developed a supply chain tool for sustainable thinking. Similarly, the fashion industry demands business savvy design student, therefore, the master class was a cooperation between Design School Kolding, Kopenhagen Fur and Materialise on sustainability and innovation. The masterclass was highly successful, with fashion designers, students and design school leaders from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, and Kuwait. By supporting the fashion schools, young designers and design students, the project aims to create a network for knowledge sharing and professional dialogue.

Objectives and main themes

  • Strengthening the regional design school network by inviting the design school leaders to the masterclass in Kuwait
  • Deepening the knowledge and awareness of sustainable fashion in the GCC
  • Inspire upcoming designers and entrepreneurs and thereby create closer interregional relations between designers, retailers and entrepreneurs from EU and GCC countries.


High-end fashion conference on EU-GCC trade and collaboration, innovation and sustainability
October 11, 2017 at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Kuwait City, Kuwait


This “High-End Fashion – Innovation & Sustainability” event is the second of its kind under the EU-GCC Trade and Business Cooperation Facility within high-end fashion and luxury. The event consisted of a high-level conference open for interested industry people (day 1) and a masterclass – by invitations only (day 2) targeted fashion design students and designers from the GCC.

Fashion and luxury is of great interest for the EU fashion industry and research shows, that Muslim consumers spend an estimated $230 billion on clothing. That figure is projected to grow to $327 billion by 2019, surpassing the current combined clothing markets of the UK ($107 billion), Germany ($99 billion) and India ($96 billion). However, the GCC is not only an export market. With the right institutional support, the GCC has a great potential to become a fashion exporter to the rest of the world. Therefore, the high-end fashion conference in Kuwait offers a great opportunity for companies, buyers, designers, influencers and organizations to share experience and knowledge that will develop further cooperation between the EU and the GCC within the fashion industry. Additionally, the fashion industry is a sector that has great influence and gives possibility to discuss other areas such as female empowerment, sustainability and entrepreneurship in the GCC.

Objectives and main themes

  • Gathering relevant industry people to create a unique platform for networking and knowledge sharing to spark a dialogue on future cooperation and business relations between the EU and the GCC.
  • Discussing opportunities and challenges for EU-GCC business and trade collaboration within fashion.
  • Showcasing EU-GCC fashion and discuss sustainability, innovation, IPR/brand protection, alternative materials within fashion, as well as highlight the importance of female entrepreneurship and craftsmanship.
  • Inspire upcoming designers and entrepreneurs and thereby create closer interregional relations between designers, retailers and entrepreneurs from EU and GCC countries.


Workshop and expert seminar on high-end luxury goods and integration of alternative materials into design and fashion
May 10-11, 2017 at the Art and Skills Institute, Riyadh, KSA


The GCC countries is encountering, like the rest of the world, a social, economic and cultural turnaround, albeit in its own particular way. The speed of this development makes it both challenging and exciting for many luxury  brands. The GCC is no longer a frontier market. Many major luxury brands are now present in the market. According to Chalhoub Group, Youth & Luxury, the GCC benefits from a younger population with a great purchasing power. Yet the consumers are increasingly more educated more demanding.

Background information

Based on initial research, Saudi Arabian nationals are driven by strong contradictions. While they yearn for individual expression, 97% look for something unique when purchasing luxury products- they are strongly attracted to anchor labels and shop within a limited set of brands. According to Chalhoub Group, Saudi Arabia’s two main towns are markedly different: Riyadh consumers are more conservative and view luxury as “special to own” while Jeddah consumers are more fashion and trend oriented, with a huge influence from the media, fashion bloggers, TV stars and singers.

ICT industry’s considerations on the Gulf Technical Regulation (March 21, 2017) here

The EU-GCC Trade and Business Cooperation Facility together with DIGITALEUROPE would like to build on the success of the EU-GCC delegation in Riyadh in March 9, 2016, to address the issue of greatest concern to ensure smooth market access of products under the new legal framework in order to avoid any negative impacts of ICT product availability for consumer and customers in the region.

Please find material from the second Business Forum (January 9, 2017 in Riyadh, KSA)  here

The EU-GCC Trade and Business Cooperation Facility is pleased to announce the second EU-GCC Business Forum to take place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on 9 January 2017, as a continuation of the first EU-GCC Business Forum held in May 2016 in Brussels. The Business Forum will focus on infrastructure development and investment, and PPP opportunities in the GCC. Prominent keynote political leaders and speakers from private and public organisations will be part of the programme. The conference will also include leading CEOs of EU and GCC multinational companies.

This second Business Forum will address the following topics:
•Enhancing EU-GCC trade relations
•Investment and FDI issues in the GCC Region
•PPP and Infrastructure investment opportunities in transportation utilities, energy, and urban planning projects

Please find material from the EU-GCC roundtable on the new UAE Halal Scheme (November 8, 2016 in Amsterdam) here. Harmonization of the GCC Halal standards and the consequences for European Union food industry and ingredients sector

The EU-GCC Trade and Business Cooperation Facility is pleased to welcome you to this 2nd Workshop and Roundtable on the implementation of the new GCC Halal Scheme and its consequences for the EU food and beverage industry. This workshop will bring together key stakeholders in the halal food industry from GCC countries and EU member states, as well as government representatives and experts to discuss the implementation of GCC Halal and in particular the UAE Halal standards.

Expert Meeting on FDI Issues in Riyadh, October 4th 2016

The purpose of the workshop is to 1) give EU companies in the KSA a platform to discuss business concerns with fellow peers 2) works towards a common set of recommendations addressing barriers to FDI 3) prioritization of these recommendations and next steps.

Please find material from the Business Forum (23-24 May, 2016 in Brussels)  here

The Business Forum is organized by the partners of the EU-GCC Trade and Business Cooperation Facility: Federation of GCC Chambers (FGCCC), the Confederation of Danish Industry (DI) and BUSINESSEUROPE with the support of the European Economic and Social Committee Employers’ Group. It is funded by the European Commission.

The Business Forum will take stock of recent developments in EU and GCC economies and bilat-eral trade, explore opportunities and challenges for trade and investment, discuss specific sectoral opportunities that can support sustainable economic development, and lastly outline the private sector’s recommendations. These recommendations will feed into to the EU and GCC political leaders attending the 25th Joint Council and Ministerial Meeting of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf and the European Union.

Please find material from the EU-GCC roundtable on the new UAE Halal Scheme (April 13, 2016 in Amsterdam) here

The recent introduction of the new UAE scheme for Halal products introduced by the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (ESMA) highlights the need for dialogue on how the new rules are to be implemented. A concern for the European food industry is the short transition period for implementing the new scheme, which will require rapid adoption not only by European food industry, but also for EU Halal certifying bodies. The importance of engaging in this dialogue is all the more important seeing that the standards has the potential to be adopted in the remaining GCC countries.

Tumbnails_download_Presentation_1000_700Session Presentations

Please find material from the EU-GCC workshop on on the new Gulf Technical Regulation on Low Voltage Electrical Product (March 9, 2016 in Riyadh) here

Working to the theme “Impact of the New Gulf Technical Regulation on the ICT Industry in the GCC”, the workshop was organised in coordination with DIGITALEUROPE and attracted 40 participants from over 8 countries – including major ICT product manufacturers, GCC importers and agents of ICT products, GCC senior executives, representatives from the Gulf Standardisation Organisation and European trade councillors. Among the major companies that attended the workshop were representatives from Apple, Canon, Dell, HP and Epson. The first session of the workshop focused on clarifying the new requirements for manufacturers and importers under the legal framework and help determine and assess the impact of this regulation on the ICT market in the GCC.

The second session included a presentation and a Q&A debate with GSO experts followed by a highlevel meeting with the GSO Secretary General HE Nabil Molla. A separate meeting with SASO was arranged on the following day.

Please find material from the EU-GCC round table on strengthening Foreign Direct Investment in the GCC region (November 4, 2015 in Qatar) here

Despite the recent surge in FDI and the relative ease of doing business in the GCC, European companies face several barriers that limit their growth potential, hence to create local growth and jobs. These obstacles can be of different types, going from a fix number of licenses granted to foreign firms, to equity caps in foreign ownership, to restrictions in legal form or in the movement of high skilled personnel.

This round table focused on ways to support the development of the private sector through improving the business environment for FDIs in the region. In particular, the roundtable targeted ways to attract foreign investment in knowledge intensive service sectors, which can contribute to job creation, entrepreneurial activities and export diversification.

Please find material from the EU-GCC round table on Promoting Innovation, Entrepreneurship and the Knowledge Economy in the GCC (November 2, 2015 in Bahrain) here

When it comes to building the knowledge economy, the GCC is one of the most ambitious regions in the world. As part of their diversification strategies, GCC countries are investing heavily in the infrastructure necessary to create knowledge economies driven by innovation rather than hydrocarbon exports. Most GCC countries have impressive future-oriented national economic strategies that aim at building innovation clusters, enabling finance and venture capital, building R&D capacity and attract highly skilled foreign experts.

Please find material from the EU-GCC round table on Tourism and Food Security (April 15, 2015 in Oman) here

This roundtable had two main themes, Food Security and Opportunities for Strengthening EU-GCC trade in the Tourism Industry. 

The first session focused on developing EU-GCC cooperation in the tourism industry. Given Oman’s position as one of the top tourist destinations in the GCC, with one of the strongest growth in the tourism sector worldwide and fastest in the MENA region, the roundtable was held at Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The second session dealth with food security as is an important issue in the GCC region due to the regions over-dependence on food imports, leaving it dangerously vulnerable to an increase in global food prices.

Please find material from the EU-GCC round table on Opportunities for Strengthening EU-GCC trade in the Chemical Industry (April 13, 2015 in Riyadh) here

Almost everything we use today needs chemical products to be manufactured or to function. The Chemical Industry is one of the most important industries in the modern world. Chemical products are involved in almost every industrial process and are essential in industries such as agriculture, automobile and construction sectors.

The roundtable explored how deepening trade relations with the EU can help diversify and widen GCC exports into downstream manufacturing industries and knowledge based products. It also looked into what policy issues that could help spur EU-GCC chemical trade such as export restrictions, rules of origin and dual pricing of feedstock.

Please find material from the EU-GCC round table on GCC Economic Diversification and EU-GCC trade and Food Safety (March 24, 2015 in Jeddah) here

The round table in Jeddah has two focal points, the Economic Diversification of the GCC region and food safety.

GCC countries have adopted ambitious strategies that aim at refocusing their growth models towards creating more diversified economies with less reliance on hydrocarbons. The aim is to boost the development of non-oil activities through a “knowledge economy” empowered by private sector, and in which nationals have the skills to enter high value-added private sector jobs.

The roundtable exploredpotential areas for advancing GCC economic diversification efforts. Furthermore, the need standardization in the food industry across the GCC and what can be done to support export from the GCC of processed food, drink and primary produce including fish was discussed. Therefore, the round table dealt with some of the real and percieved barriers to EU-GCC trade.

Tumbnails_download_Presentation_1000_700Session Presentations
by Peter Helk (DI)
and Jamel Zarrouk (Islamic Development Bank)

Tumbnails_download_Presentation_1000_700Ramboll Presentation
by Henrik S. Pedersen

The Startup MENA project is completed. Please find the information on our Startup MENA project below.

Startup MENA EU-GCC is a series of premium workshops and match-making events between startups, SME’s and corporates in the EU and the GCC

The mission is to provide startups, SME’s and corporates with the missing links in order to become robust businesses, enhance trade and corporation as well as accelerate growth. Through strong partnerships with key institutions and organisations in both regions, Startup MENA can offer the potential to start a new chapter in a new market.

Visit Startup MENA’s webpage

Throughout 2015 Startup MENA will facilitate workshops & events that provide knowledge and know-how on how to open up businesses in Europe and the GCC. We will also be running Startup Challenges for GCC startups in Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Furthermore we will match-make corporates and SMEs in the regions at two events in Dubai and London.

We are rolling out a series of ambitious workshops and matchmaking events for EU and GCC startups, SME’s and corporates in 6 GCC countries and 4 European cities.

We are engaging in 4 different ways, targeting both aspiring entreprenuers, startups, SMEs and corporates displayed in the below infographic: