Covering a vast and diverse region the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey (MENAT) are important economic partners for Victoria.

With strong economic and population growth, the region's engagement with global markets has increased, providing key export destinations across a range of Victorian industry sectors. Iran offers substantial export opportunities as an emerging market following Australia's suspension of certain autonomous sanctions in January 2016.

International education and Vocational Education Training

Iran and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are committed to providing quality education and developing a local skills base to diversify their national economies. As Australia's leaders in transnational delivery, Victorian Higher Education and Vocational Education and Training (VET) providers have opportunities to expand their business and assist the region's investment in education.

Food and fibre

Key factors such as land-use restrictions, the climate and regional security issues make food security a top priority for governments across the region, particularly in the Gulf which imports 90 per cent of its food requirements. With strong population growth projected to exceed 500 million by 2020, the demand for high-quality food and beverage products is predicted to soar providing key opportunities for Victoria's agribusiness – particularly in the dairy, meat, prepared and health food industries.

Tourism and market accessibility

Seven flights arrive every day to Melbourne airport from countries in the Gulf region and have been a key driver for an increase in tourism providing a potential customer base for the Victorian tourism and hospitality sectors.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) holds a strong position in the region as a major re-export centre and the airline companies that fly into Melbourne airport daily facilitate air cargo shipments to the broader regions of Africa, Asia and Europe.

Major events and professional services

Countries across the region are pursuing ambitious national development plans, preparing to host major events such as Expo 2020 in Dubai, and the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Opportunities have emerged for a range of Victorian businesses in the professional services sector to support these major events by exporting their knowledge, skills, and innovations with products and services in architecture and construction, transport, green building design, hospitality and events management. Niche opportunities also exist in the innovative delivery of public services.

Expo 2020 Dubai

Australia will participate in Expo 2020 Dubai which takes place between October 2020 to April 2021. Opportunities to supply the Australian Government for the Expo 2020 will be advertised on AusTender, while opportunities to supply goods and services are currently advertised on the Expo Procurement Portal. Tenders are open to companies from around the world, and SMEs are encouraged to apply.

Medical technology, pharmaceuticals and healthcare

The healthcare market in the region is expected to be worth US$144 billion by 2020, with strong demand in both primary and preventative health. Victoria's world-class healthcare, medical, pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries are strongly positioned to meet the region's growing demand for better healthcare services.

Water technology

Government initiatives implemented in the region have been designed to expand and improve water infrastructure and implement behavioural change programs to reduce water usage and wastage. Key opportunities have been provided for Victorian businesses to export their knowledge, expertise and technology in the agribusiness and water sectors.

Research and innovation

Israeli companies, universities and research institutions specialising in environmental technologies, cyberspace, biotechnology and agribusiness provide collaborative research and development opportunities for Victorian businesses.

Tel Aviv is Israel's research and innovation hub and was ranked as the world's best startup centre outside of the USA. Under the administration of Austrade, Tel Aviv has been chosen  to be one of five global innovation hubs – or Landing Pads – providing Australian tech startups with  a collaborative workspace and opportunities to bring their ideas to an international market.

Fast facts

  • Victoria's total merchandise trade with the Middle East, Northern Africa (MENA), Turkey and Iran was A$3.27 billion in 2016-17.1
  • Victoria's total food exports to MENA, Turkey and Iran in 2016-17 totalled A$934 million.2
  • Victoria was the first Australian state to open a trade office in the region, establishing its Dubai office in 1997.
  • The GCC comprises Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE with a collective GDP of US$1.52 trillion in 2017.3
  • The World Bank projects the region's food market to be worth US$1 trillion by 2030.
  • A third of the world's population lives within a four-hour flight of the Gulf and half of the world's population are within an eight-hour flight.4
  • 57 per cent of people in the region are under 30 years of age.5

Discover how your business can export to MENAT

  • The State Government of Victoria recognises the importance of engagement with the region and has had a well-established presence in the Gulf since 1997 when the Victorian Government Trade and Investment (VGTI) office opened in Dubai. Our VGTI offices provide tailored market intelligence, insights, and guidance for your export business, and can connect you with overseas buyers and industry partners from the region.
  • Victorian businesses seeking in-country market assistance for Israel should contact the VGTI in London.
  • Austrade Market Profiles provide further detail and facts on the Middle East, Turkey and Iran markets.
  • The Victorian Government provides support through a range of grants, vouchers and assistance programs.
  • The International Chamber House (ICH) in Melbourne's city centre is a business networking hub for international bilateral chambers and business associations. It provides members access to meeting rooms with video-conferencing, flexible workspaces and a function space for international business development events.
  • Opportunities exist for Victorian businesses to bid for contracts across a wide range of sectors and markets with the World Bank and United Nations. Providing financial support to low and middle-income countries for projects focused on development and change, World Bank's contract award decisions are based on criteria other than lowest price, such as quality and sustainability
  • Visit our regional insights page and read current updates from our Regional Specialists


  1. DFAT STARS Database, based on ABS Cat No 5368.0, June 2017 data
  2. DFAT STARS Database, based on ABS Cat No 5368.0, June 2017 data
  3. International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database, January 2018, GDP current prices
  4. Foreign Affairs, The Gulf Also Rises, Oct 2016
  5. UN Population Division, World Population Prospects: The 2015 Revision, custom data acquired via website