Photo by Ēriks Božis

From 24 to 29 November, ten companies from Latvia are participating in the Expo 2020 design trade mission in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The companies will be given a chance to meet potential business partners, visit other national exhibitions, participate in the Business Forum, and join the events of the Latvian National Day on 27 November.

Stories Editorial November 23, 2021

The companies taking part in the trade mission are Ouzel Studio, Vaskala, Smubic, Nord Mood, Riga Chair factory, Studio Natural, Isona, Yes, Ābols SUP and Kasmo.


«The companies represented here are very diverse in terms of the field they are working in, their experience, and their revenue. Some of them have some business experience with the Middle East, as we have been present in Dubai during design fairs. We are reaching out to various potential partners and customers. For some companies, the main focus is on retail chains and design concept shops, but some have their eyes on hotels and spa facilities — business clients who demand textile products and furniture. The construction and interior design industries are growing rapidly in the Middle East, and for Latvian companies it is a good opportunity to find the right niche. Our companies can offer such products as developmental toys, footwear and accessories made out of a vegan leather alternative, as well as exclusive products like wooden SUP boards, a luxury item that is a bold move for the region,» said Zane Biteniece, Senior Project Manager at the Export Promotion Division of the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA).


In order to provide the companies with the best-targeted meetings with potential partners and not to rely on luck, LIAA uses the services of a consultant that has offered each of the companies twenty contacts based on their interests and profiles, and each one has chosen six to continue their negotiations with.


Aldis Circenis, Chairman of the Board of Riga Chair factory admitted to not having too much experience in the Middle East, even though the company has seen good results during fairs in the previous years. It’s worth noting that the furniture of Riga Chair factory is part of the Latvian Pavilion at Expo. «One of our main conclusions is that in this market, you have to be present. This is why this trade mission is so important in enabling us to meet potential business partners. We are not aiming at the consumer market, instead we will bring interior design and comprehensive equipment solutions for public spaces to the table, which is something we have been doing for many years. The most important part for us is to understand what to offer in this market. We must understand the way people think and what their taste is. There is no point working in all directions at the same time,» said Aldis Circenis.


The sustainable footwear fashion brand Tooche, which operates under the company Yes, has made a number of bold moves, expanding into distant markets, such as the US and Japan. The company sees the affluent Middle East as another attractive market, because the demand for sustainable products there is rising. «Sustainable fashion is our niche — we work with innovative materials, such as the Pinatex vegan leather alternative made out of pineapple leaves. In Dubai, interest in such a solution could be immense. However, our experience with non-European markets indicates the challenge of overcoming the difference in cultures and temperaments often make communication difficult. We must keep in mind that the business environment in the Middle East is very masculine, so it remains to be seen if our brand, represented by women, sees any success. Another well-known problem is logistics — it’s always difficult to be working outside Europe, but nothing is impossible,» said Mišela Šehurina, designer at Tooche.



Meanwhile, the Family-scl brand by Kasmo offers multifunctional furniture which also serves as a developmental toy for children. «We want to use the trade mission as a means to promote our brand and find business partners in the Middle East, a market that we find interesting for its rapidly growing economy and technological progress. The biggest challenge will be to get potential partners interested and to convince them that we are reliable partners. We have a few advantages — the design of our furniture allows for very different uses, it is suitable for a variety of interior styles and does not cut back on the play element the children love so much,» said Kaspars Naglis, board member of Family-scl.


The Expo 2020 world fair takes place from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022. Additional information about Latvia’s participation in the exhibition is available on Latvia’s Expo 2020 homepage.