UK, Gulf foreign ministers to strengthen security, economic ties

Closer ties with our Gulf partners will deliver jobs and opportunities for the British people and help make us all safer: Britain’s Foreign Secretary

By Prasun Sonwalkar

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Published: Mon 20 Dec 2021, 2:39 PM

Foreign ministers from Gulf countries and Britain on Monday agreed to strengthen security and economic ties, setting the stage for closer cooperation in areas including trade, cyber security and green infrastructure investment into low and middle-income countries.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss convened the Foreign Ministers of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain and Kuwait, the UAE Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, and the Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary-General at Chevening House.

Officials said the group agreed to work together to boost clean, reliable, honest infrastructure financing into the developing world, using their collective expertise to maximise the impact of investments.

Representatives from all GCC member states were at the talks, including: Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, Foreign Minister of Qatar Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Foreign Minister of Oman Sayyid Badr Albusaidi, Foreign Minister of Bahrain Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, Foreign Minister of Kuwait Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah, UAE Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Lana Zaki Nusseibeh, and the GCC Secretary-General Nayef Falah Mubarak Al Hajraf.

The Gulf visitors also welcomed the relaunched British International Investment (BII) body, which will increase investments in infrastructure, tech and clean energy projects across Asia, Africa and the Caribbean, the officials added.

In October, BII, then called CDC, announced a new deal with Dubai’s DP World to modernise three ports in Senegal, Somaliland and Egypt. This is part of a wider programme to boost African trade around the world.

The Foreign Ministers also welcomed work to increase trade between the UK and the GCC, which is worth more than £30 billion per year. The UK and GCC are working towards a new Free Trade Agreement (FTA), with negotiations expected to commence next year, which will boost links in areas like investment and services.

Truss said: “Closer economic and security ties with our Gulf partners will deliver jobs and opportunities for the British people and help make us all safer. Co-investing with the Gulf in infrastructure will help low-and middle-income countries being strategically dependent on any one provider, while also boosting clean growth and encouraging enterprise and innovation to flourish”.

She added: “It is a win-win for all parties. I want us to have much deeper links in key areas like trade, investment, development and cybersecurity with a part of the world that is important to Britain’s long-term interests.”


The GCC is one of the world’s most important networks for key regional and security issues. The meeting was also used to discuss the conflict in Yemen, Iran’s destabilising regional activity, and the Afghanistan crisis. The UK has worked closely with Gulf allies on these issues, providing urgent humanitarian assistance and working together on evacuations in Afghanistan.

As one of the first countries to publicly welcome the Abraham Accords, which normalised Israel’s relations with the UAE, Bahrain and others in the region, the UK remains positive that this historic step can promote shared regional prosperity and security.

The UK will support Israel and its partners in the Gulf to achieve this, officials added.

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