Following the UK’s vote to leave the European Union, the Irish capital is positioning itself as a better post-Brexit alternative to London.
A lively, liveable EU city with a low corporate-tax rate, Dublin is keen to step into London’s shoes as a business hub. But Brexit brings uncertainty here too.
Let’s go for a drink and sign a $10m contract
It’s a big topic here because not only does Ireland share a land border with Northern Ireland but the UK is the country’s biggest trading partner. “We’re in a settling down period,” says Conor Simpson, regional manager for Mid-East and Dublin at the IDA, Ireland’s investment promotion agency.
The shock of Brexit follows Ireland’s even more dramatic climb out of recession with GDP for 2015 hitting 255.8bn euros, representing more than 26% real growth year-on-year. This compared with GDP at 193.1bn euros in 2014, according to Eurostat, statistics office for the EU. For 2011 they reported Ireland’s real GDP growth at zero.
It has also seen the arrival of workers from around the EU; the so-called ‘New Irish’
“We’re the poster boys of Europe again,” Sam Johnston, manager of Dublin Convention Bureau says. Recovery has prompted the return of many Irish people who had left to find work overseas. It has also seen the arrival of workers from around the EU; the so-called "New Irish".
This change in fortunes means Ireland is now contemplating a ‘brain drain’ of talent from the UK as banks, businesses and other professions relocate to their island neighbour.
They would be coming to a country where the median age is just 36 compared to 42.2 elsewhere in the EU, according to Eurostat 2015. “For young people in the UK, if their language skills aren’t honed, coming to an English speaking country would be an easy and natural step and they wouldn’t feel too far from home,” Johnston says.
And there are many other draws.
Dublin City and suburbs has a population of more than 1.1 million and some residents are still able to afford to live downtown. There are three large universities right in the middle of the city plus “Silicon Docks,” an area around Grand Canal Dock fed by the River Liffey where Facebook, Google, Amazon, LinkedIn and Twitter are all present.
Business tourism is worth 579m euros ($639m) a year to the national economy and supports 19,000 jobs
Citibank, Zurich and Deutsche Bank are already here, as are IBM and German software firm SAP, and business service companies Capita and Wipro.
Business tourism is worth 579m euros ($639m) a year to the national economy and supports 19,000 jobs, according to Failte Ireland, the national tourism development agency.
The Irish are known for the "craic" — the Gaelic Irish word for news, gossip, fun and rip roaring chatter. So in Dublin, named one of the world’s friendliest cities by Conde Nast, barriers between business and socialising don’t exist.
“In Ireland the person comes first. A lot of business happens between local businesses, between friends. They know they can trust each other. Meetings often take place in pubs, cafes, restaurants and hotel receptions,” says founder and CEO of digital-marketing firm Business Bloomer, Rodolfo Melogli, who moved to Ireland nine years ago from Rome.
“The ‘craic’ is vital. You cannot start a meeting without having a laugh first or talking about the crazy weather yesterday or how many pints you had in the pub last night,” he said. “You have to connect on a personal level first and a lot of people who come here to do business miss that. The atmosphere is so not business-y. When you go to meet someone in a pub it could be simply ‘Let’s go for a drink’ or it could be ‘Let’s go for a drink and sign a $10m contract.’”
About 10 km (6 miles) north of the city, Dublin Airport has flights to more than 180 destinations in 40 countries. The busiest routes are to London, Manchester and Birmingham, followed by New York and Paris. The airport handled 25 million passengers last year and is on track to be even busier this year.
Metered taxis and bus services are available from both terminals. A bus ride to the centre costs 6-7 euros ($6-$8) By taxi it’s 30-35 euros ($33-$39). The 24-hour Aircoach service stops at most major hotels in the city centre.
Within Dublin itself there are buses, trains and trams but the city is so compact that many visitors prefer to walk.
Credit cards are widely accepted, especially MasterCard and Visa, but not traveller’s cheques. Small corner shops sometimes prefer cash. But having notes larger than 50 euros accepted is tricky so try to carry denominations of 20 euros or less. The Central Bank is also running a "rounding" project to reduce use of one-cent and two-cent coins. This means that when paying cash your total might be rounded up or down to the nearest five cents.
Where to stay
For a bit of glamour, close to the Convention Centre Dublin (CCD) in the trendy Docklands business district, five-star The Marker hotel has an infinity pool, spa and rooftop city-view bar.
The O’Callaghan group’s hotels offer four-star comfort at the Davenport, Stephen’s Green and Alexander hotels and three-star accommodation in the Mont Clare.
Also handy for the convention centre and the International Financial Services Centre, is the Hilton Garden Inn Dublin Custom House, a three-star with 24-hour business centre and fitness room.
Culinary highlights include Galway oysters, native lobster and dressed Yawl Bay crab
Dinner for one
Housed within an elegant Georgian residence, the Cliff Townhouse on St Stephen’s Green is a classic brunch, lunch or dinner rendezvous for local business people. Culinary highlights include Galway oysters, native lobster and dressed Yawl Bay crab.
At Fade St Social, TV chef Dylan McGrath runs a restaurant and gourmet tapas bar. Don’t expect traditional Spanish tapas — the ingredients are homegrown produce such as wild mushrooms, Irish sirloin.
Off the clock
In 1759, Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000-year lease on a rundown brewery at St James’s Gate, Dublin, and started making an unusual black beer. Today it’s home to the Guinness Storehouse, Ireland’s most popular tourist attraction, with bars, restaurants, tastings, the chance to drink in the company’s history and to learn how to pour Guinness perfectly. Open seven days, entry from 16 euros ($17.57).
In the heart of the city, the National Gallery of Ireland offers free entry to its stunning permanent collection of Irish and European art. Open seven days a week.
Although Ireland belongs to the EU it didn't sign up to the Schengen Agreement. So if you come from a country requiring an entry visa to Ireland, a Schengen visa won't cover you.
Editors Note: This article was corrected July 29 to change an inaccurate population figure. The population of Dublin City and suburbs is 1.1 million plus according to the Central Statistics Office.
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