Insights: The UK and UAE – Opportunities and Partnerships

Insights: The UK and UAE – Opportunities and Partnerships  

As UK undergoes major changes and crises, there are opportunities for the UAE to partner and create avenues for trade, business, investments, and innovations.

VIP Guest Speakers

Simon Penney, His Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for the Middle East & Pakistan, and His Majesty’s Consul General to Dubai and the Northern Emirates.

Anthony Harris, Former British Ambassador to UAE; Senior Executive, Tysers Insurance Brokers.

Helen Barrett, Deputy Chair, British Business Group; Partner, CBD Corporate Services, UAE.

Nick Cochrane-Dyet MBE, Chairman, British Chamber of Commerce; Special Advisor, BP, 30+ years, UAE

Marc Ostwald, Chief Economist & Global Strategist at ADM Investor Services International, UK (Online)

Moderator: Frank Kane, Senior Journalist and Consultant, UAE.

Key Insights 

  • There are lots of opportunities in a rather dire current situation. UK’s strengths is in its soft power, language, education, and legal system, which needs to be better leveraged by more actively creating collaborations globally. However, the nation must let go of some of its past international rhetoric and not be complacent in building ties. UK needs to engage at the highest level with the leadership in the UAE and GCC.
  • Mubadala, UAE’s sovereign investment programmes, continues to grow in the UK. Despite the volatility the UK has seen, it continues to remain a priority investment market for the UAE for the long term.
  • Britain is still a powerhouse in terms of the goods and services that it can export. One of the largest lines of UK export is finance credit coming into the UAE.
  • A free trade agreement dialogue is in progress between UK and the GCC as a whole rather than just the UAE. It is in the best interest of UK companies to have one entry point in the Gulf that is seamless with unified regulations, tariff, quotas, etc.
  • In the meantime, there are other routes for business to flourish in both nations, via the British Business Group, the British Chamber of Commerce, the UAE Business Council and the Joint Economic Committee.
  • The UK is still an old-fashioned trading country, and its banking system is basically based on that. At the end of the day, it’s about what businesses and the financial sector do.
  • KSA is the UK’s largest export market in the Gulf now, especially for its services. This is very significant for the UK and reveals how well the British consultants, accountant, architects, engineers, and lawyers are doing in this region.
  • There are advantages for the UK as a single operator rather than a block operator, especially in the services sector. Where one can be more agile, there are opportunities, and this is very true of the services sector rather than something which involves manufacturing or export of energy and a lot of infrastructure.
  • There is a very high uptake of British SME’s and entrepreneurs coming into the UAE and KSA. The legislation of 100% foreign ownership and lower costs of doing business has enabled companies coming in from the UK, such as tech services, engineering services, fintech, PR, marketing, education, consultancy, training, etc.
  • The UK firms also look at this region as a gateway to enter other neighbouring markets due to the free trade agreements that UAE has forged with countries around the world, which are very broad and deep in scope. For example, if you’re a UK manufacturer and you’re looking at India as a potential export market, then you can then take advantage of the benefits you would get from the UAE and India agreement giving you tariff free entry into the Indian market.
  • The chambers and the business groups can spot issues that need resolutions quickly by working with the various government departments. For example, a pharmaceutical company needed to get a trial going quickly and was able to get permission to do this. It is now going to develop their product here in the UAE.
  • The UK and the UAE have had long term partnerships and that’s part of the success. But both nations must keep working on their relationship. Today, there are about 400,000 UK companies that export but more than twice that number are ‘export ready’ but don’t. How does one change this?