A conference in Dublin today heard that the opportunities for Irish companies in Arab countries are significant with the possibility of the creation of 6,000 jobs in Ireland by 2020.

The inaugural Arab-Irish Business Forum heard today that the value of the Arab world to Irish business grew by 16% last year and was valued at €4 billion for goods and services.

This figure is expected to grow to €6 billion by 2020. 

It was also told that Irish companies are already seeing considerable success in the Arab countries and in particular, the five Gulf countries of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain. 

These account for over 70% of Irish business to the region. 

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation today announced another trade mission to the region, which is scheduled for late April.

Richard Burton said that news of the trade mission makes it clear once again the scale of the possibilities that exist for Ireland in the region.

Today's conference was jointly organised by Enterprise Ireland, Emirates Airline, the Arab-Irish Chamber of Commerce and Bord Bia.

Speakers included Colm McLoughlin of Dubai Duty Free, Declan O'Mahony, CEO of the OMG Group and Michael Looby, the CEO of Byrne Looby Partners. 

Over 450 indigenous Irish companies currently operate in the Gulf region including Jones Engineering, Glen Dimplex, Glanbia, PM Group, Glenbeigh Records Management, Kerry Group, Chanelle Pharmaceuticals and Byrne Looby.