Greetings from the Finnish Ambassador in Riyadh!

I was happy to meet so many Finnish Business Council members in Dubai on 15th of April. Saudi-Arabia is by far the largest economy and market in the Middle East. The country is going through profound transition in developing the economy to become less dependent on oil and petrochemical production. All this creates a lot of promising business opportunities also for Finnish companies. At the same time, the economy of the country – and in fact, much of the whole region - is still very much tied to the oil price. At least in the short run the oil market price looks rather good. In addition to Saudi Arabia the Embassy in Riyadh also covers Oman and Kuwait. The Embassy, in cooperation with the Business Finland office in Riyadh, is ready to support also Dubai based Finnish companies in their efforts to do business in these countries.  


Antti Rytövuori, Ambassador of Finland in Saudi-Arabia, Oman and Kuwait

Finnish Way of Connecting Minds, Creating the Future in Expo 2020

Finland, together with over 100 Finnish companies, is participating in the World Expo 2020 in Dubai with her own pavilion "Snow Cape". Participation in the Expo is strengthening Finland's visibility in the Gulf region.

The benefits of participating in the World Expo are significant not only for Finland, but also for Finnish companies and clusters. For many industries, e.g. high technology industries, education and health technology, the Gulf countries are a growing market and participation in Expo will strengthen the existing relationships and build new connections between Finland and Finnish companies with UAE and Gulf area. It will also boost the Finland’s brand image not only in Gulf area, but also wider in Africa and South Asia and eventually globally. Finland will be promoted as a trade partner, investment target and destination for travel.

Expo participation consists of number of activities. We are building the actual Pavilion building and designing the exhibition. Furthermore we are preparing the operations and programming for the 173 Expo days. During the process we also wish to spread information about Finland and our sustainable innovations. Presently we are heavily concentrating on the Pavilion construction, but all activities have been initiated and will be intensified as the opening day approaches.

The design concept of the Finland pavilion “Snow Cape”

“Snow Cape” is the name of Finnish pavilion at the World Expo 2020 in Dubai. Simple, but refined Finnish design combined with an entrance resembling an Arabic tent brings together the country’s icy landscapes with the culture of Expo 2020’s host nation, the United Arab Emirates.

 Inspired by the white blanket of snow, which covers the Finnish landscape from autumn onwards, the Finland Pavilion resembles a white snow covered tent. The simple, elegant design reflects the fascinating tradition of Finnish architecture. The Finnish pavilion is a meeting space, a tent where connections between Finnish and Arabic minds can be fostered.

 The Finland Pavilion takes its inspiration from Finnish nature, design and innovation

 Finland has a unique and long heritage in design and architecture. The pavilion can also be seen as a design object telling a story about this heritage. From outside, the shape is simple but refined; inside a dynamic, open “gorge” is carved into the building. The pavilion aims to stand out from the complex visual noise of its surroundings.

Finland is one of the leading countries in terms of innovation and technological know-how in the entire world. Finnish innovation is highly respected globally.  Innovation often requires thinking “out of the box”, including an element of surprise. In the pavilion, the surprise is the wooden heart and exhibitions inside. Waiting to be discovered, the pavilion offers a cool shaded refuge for Expo visitors. Best innovations are simple but intelligent, this is also the approach of the architectural concept.

 Connecting Minds, Creating the Future

 The main theme of Dubai Expo 2020 ”Connecting Minds, Creating the Future” signals our global need to work together to inspire future generations and to develop partnerships across sectors, organisations and geographies to address multitude of needs of our rapidly changing world.

 The theme of Connecting Minds, Creating the Future is structured around the three subthemes of Opportunity, Mobility, and Sustainability. These subthemes represent three critical drivers of global progress. In these respective areas, Finnish companies have a lot to offer.

 Exhibition sharing Sustainable Finnish innovations

 Construction work on Finland pavilion will start in May and exhibition design in June. On the ground level of the Finnish Pavilion, exhibition will showcase the country’s competences and expertise across various business sectors. Finland will be presented as a destination for business, partnerships, investment opportunities and travel. The latest innovations reside primarily in the corporate world; consequently, technological innovations of Finnish globally operating companies are a strong element in the exhibition.

 Sustainability is at the core of all Finnish public and private activity. Sustainable innovations is a concept embraced by Finnish industry at large. Opportunities of connecting minds globally in order to find solutions to human challenges is also inherent to exhibits in the pavilion. Finland’s key strengths – Education & Know-How, Functionality & Wellbeing and Nature & Sustainable Development - are all incorporated into the comprehensive exhibition of Finland.

 Finnish Majlis – a platform for deeper connections

 The second level, VIP and Conference area or “Finnish Majlis” is bringing the meeting of minds to a deeper level. In this multifunction area business partners, decision makers, politicians, administrations and all other invited groups can meet face to face in the cool shaded refuge inside the Finnish-Arabic tent. During most of the 173 days of Expo different interest groups are invited to meet their Finnish partners and to make new connections with the hosts.

 Programming and operations

 Planning work for operations and events during the Expo are still at a very early stage. Programming will follow the major events taking place in UAE and the theme weeks of Expo that are being developed. Joint activities with Expo, other National pavilions and especially with our Nordic and Baltic neighbours are being examined.

 Communications programme

 The entire Expo participation is a communications exercise. Consequently, we are strongly investing in communications activities already during the time before Expo. Press visit to Finland and thematic press events in Dubai are already taking place and more is in the pipeline. The activities are increasing as the opening of Expo approaches and the highlight will be the Finnish National day on November 20th, just a month after the opening of Expo.

 Pirkko Autio

Communications Director, Business Finland,

finnish pavillion expo.png

The ultimate speed networking event was a success!

On the 27th of February the first in a series of ultimate speed networking events took place at Movenpick Hotel. This was an event organised in co-operation with eight other councils and 60 companies within construction, fit out and design sector met. Keep your eyes out not to miss the next opportunity!

FBC organised gathering for families of Finnish Athletes in the Special Olympics

On Sunday 17th of March, FBC met with some of the families who have traveled from Finland to the UAE to take part in the Special Olympics World Games. Everyone had a great time socializing at the Loop Bar in Bab Al Qasr Hotel in Abu Dhabi!

Head of International Innovation Partnerships at Business Finland

Busy week in deepening trade relations for FBC 

Last week of February was  busy week for FBC with multiple visitors and events in town to promote business also for the Finns. FBC Board was invited to attend a SME seminar organized by the Ministry of Finance.  Board members Kimmo and Riikka Kytösaari, Seppo Keränen (Business Finland) and Jaana Räsänen-Pentti attended the meeting. Many local and federal initiatives to strengthen operations for small and medium sized enterprizes were elaborated in the presentations. Mr. Mika Lautanaho of Business Finland gave a presentation on the Finnish innovation and r&d policy, targets and funding instruments.  He described the importance of SME funding through Business Finland through client estimates, that 2018 projects will generate 8.8 billion euros in turnover and 6.9 billion euros in exports. The target for Team Finland is to double R&D investments and exports of SME's by 2025. Other countries invited to present were Ireland and Sweden. 

Business Council corporate members were also invited to Business Finland to discuss with Mr Mika Lautanaho and Mr Seppo Keränen to discuss how to optimise and align Business Finland, Finland’s Dubai EXPO 2020 mission and FBC agendas in the wake of Dubai EXPO 2020. Many strategic and operative initiatives were discussed, such as the establishment of the Finnish HUB to support and summon activities under one umbrella and a physical space. FBC ws pleased to note the 'go get' -spirit we seem to share collectively.

Jaana Räsänen-Pentti

Honorary Chairman

New Commercial Counsellor at Business Finland Dubai Office

My name is Seppo Keränen and I started as Commercial Counsellor in Business Finland Dubai office on 1st of January 2019. My main responsibilities related to “Do Business with Finland”; innovation and export activities, as well full support to Visit Finland and invest in Finland activities mainly in the United Arab Emirates.

 I have travelled a long way with earlier Finpro and so I believe that I have extremely good understanding of the challenges our companies are facing in their growth path. During the years, my main tasks have included e.g. Head of India, Middle East and Africa (IMEA) region, program director of the education growth program; construction, logistics and machinery responsibility in regional consultative sales team covering IMEA and Central and East Europe (CEE) and account management in manufacturing, energy and environment fields. Before joining Finpro I worked e.g. for Rautaruukki Corporation (Iron and Steel) for many years in various management positions and also worked 3 years in same sector in Saudi Basic Industries (Sabic).

 Business Finland (BF) created on 1st January 2018 by the merger of two organizations: Finpro, which offered services for internationalization, investments and tourism promotion, and Tekes, which offered funding for innovation activities. Business Finland employs 600 experts in 40 offices overseas and in 18 regional offices around Finland. Business Finland is part of the Team Finland network.

 BF has new organizational structure and many new services for Finnish companies and research players in Finnish ecosystem. Focus is on the companies that seek international growth & research organizations in cooperation with companies. BF offers today competence & market knowledge, contacts & networks and funding.

 BF ecosystems is currently running a few national programs for Finnish companies in the ecosystem. Four (4) national programs are also focusing to UAE: Food from Finland, Health & Wellbeing, Smart Energy and Visit Finland (tourism). Program teams get support from the internal advisors, global network (GN) and external experts in the target markets.

BF has recently launched new database for external experts. Aim is to get more expertise for Finnish companies’ international business expansion. When companies need new customers, partners, sales channel development, digital sales and marketing, market research, Mergers & acquisitions, founding a company or build internationalization strategy – they will find good experts from Finland and target markets globally from the Expert Search:

 The next step is to have here in Dubai more wider “softlanding” services for companies entering and looking growth in the market.

 Finland will participate the Dubai Expo 2020. Currently there are already almost 30 Finnish companies as partners in the Expo-project and more to come. My responsibility in UAE is to be the first local link and support to our Expo team together with Finland Embassy in UAE, which is highly important asset to our work in all activities.

 Expo 2020 will organized in Dubai from 20 October 2020 to 10 April 2021. The theme of the Dubai Expo 2020 is “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future” with three sub-themes of “Opportunity”, “Mobility” and “Sustainability”. The organizers are expecting 25 million visitors from all around the world. In Dubai Expo, unlike the previous World Expos, majority of the visitors (70 %) will come from outside the UAE. Aim is to get more businesses for the Finnish partner companies and the companies who are considering join the Expo. First job is to activate new companies and innovation system players towards ambitious growth in UAE.

We all together need to promote Finnish offering and share information regarding Finland and then challenge our companies and link them to business opportunities more closely in our everyday teamwork in UAE, utilize more efficiently wide internal and external competences and networks.  Finland has the most attractive and competitive innovation environment, as a test bed Finland. There are also new process with permit for foreign start-ups to enter Finnish market, where worldclass success stories created.  Task is to keep Finland as a wanted partner to innovate and grow globally.

 Gulf area looks today very promising for all ‘small’ Nordic countries and now is the right time to link the forces together as much as possible and complement each other. I’m sure that at the near future the mutual Nordic Innovation center will be established also in UAE.

 Business Finland has had a remarkable role in the growth of Finnish businesses as well as in the investments that international companies make to Finland. Our customers see the funding from BF as their most important source for financing renewal.

·       Export of our customer companies increased by 24 % in 2018.

·       The SME companies that received financing from BF during 2014-2017 increased their turnover by 20 % whereas companies that were not our customers, increased their turnover by 13 %.

·       The amount of foreign investments increased by 44 % (in euros) last year as the 45 Invest in Finland customers invested over 475 million euros to Finland.

·       Visit Finland and the travel sector exceeded the results of the record-high year of 2017: The number of foreign visitors' overnight stays in Finland reached 6,8 million in 2018.

 Values in Business Finland are:

With Passion (innolla) – Think Big (isosti) – All Together (yhdessä) – With Sisu (sisulla)

Nordic Scalers

Many startups never reach their full potential. Even if they are on the right track in terms of growth, taking their business from 20 employees to 200 can be a daunting and difficult task, especially in new markets.

Nordic Scalers want to change this

After a Nordic wave of true global scale-ups and unicorns in recent years, we think the time is right for a program that supports a culture for scaling. The Nordic Scalers program aims to connect scale-up teams with each other and link them to experienced growth founders, corporates and VCs. To boil it down: one of the most resourceful Nordic networks.

The purpose is to enable the most promising scale-ups in the Nordics to grow into becoming the next global corporates like LEGO, IKEA, Nokia, Rema 1000 and Marel.

Download the presentation with further details from here.

Nordic Sundowner - Arab Health

Danish Business Council organized a January Sundowner. It was held at the consulate of Denmark, where all the dignitaries and nordic council members were invited to. CEO American Hospital held a speech, about his views of the healthcare in the region and also gave few hints, about the American Hospital Dubai future plans. 

Wonderful evening closed with drinks, nibbles and networking, which companies present found very beneficial. 

Next Nordic Sundowner will be held on 25th February by Finland, which will be about the Famous Finnish Education System.