Dubai to be home of Arab world’s first British Centre

Dubai will host the Arab world’s first British Business Centre, or BBC, that was launched on Monday by UK Minister for Trade and Investment Lord Green, mainly to facilitate small companies.

By Abdul Basit

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Published: Tue 24 Sep 2013, 9:23 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 8:25 PM

Lord Green, Jonathan Davidson and Richard Oliver at the exclusive launch of the British Business Centre in Dubai on Monday. — KT photo by Leslie Pableo

Dubai and Abu Dhabi will have its own BBCs in the first and fourth quarters of 2014, respectively.

The Dubai BBC will be created under the auspices of Dubai Economic Department, or DED, in partnership with SME Dubai and FDI Dubai.

It is proposed that the Dubai centre will be situated in the DED’s existing business centre. Initially, the BBC will accommodate up to 50 UK SME companies on a “hot desk” basis with office infrastructure and support.

“Dubai has got one of the best British Business Groups [BBGs] anywhere in the world, so they start from much stronger position than in the case with British network in some other countries,” Green told Khaleej Times at the launch.

The minister mentioned that there will be more business centres in other Gulf countries and discussions with Qatar are in an advanced level. Different countries have different starting points, but Dubai is the first point for this kind of business centre, he added.

UK on track to reach £12b trade target with UAE

The UK is all set to achieve its trade target of £12 billion by the end of 2015 with the UAE, British Consul-General in Dubai Edward Hobart told Khaleej Times on Monday.

The UK is on track to achieve this, Hobart said, adding: “We are going to hit £11 billion by the end of this year.”

“We are probably ahead of our target as we have got nine per cent growth in exports from the UK in the first half of the year and UAE exports have gone up by huge amount,” he said on the sidelines of the launch of the British Business Centres, or BBCs, in the UAE.

Responding a question regarding the BBC’s role to help achieve the set target, he replied: “I believe we will achieve our trade target any ways.”

Talking about the setting up of the BBCs in the country, he said it is an initiative to support British businesses entering the UAE.

“It will help them to get on shore to bring their expertise and skills into the UAE market for better relationship with UAE companies,” he explained.

Regarding the UK’s role in promoting Islamic finance, he said there are over three million Muslims in the UK, so it’s very important market for Islamic financing.

“We are also a financial global centre,” he said, adding that there is a huge amount of partnership exists between the UK and Dubai.

London will host the forthcoming World Islamic Economic Forum on October 29 to 31, the first time it will be held outside the Muslim world.

Last Thursday, Green inaugurated a BBC in New Delhi. Initially, the UK government has planned 20 business centres across the world and then there will be 20 more, he explained.

Later on, Jonathan Davidson and Richard Oliver — the BBG’s chairmen for Dubai and the Northern Emirates, and Abu Dhabi, respectively — briefed the members and media about the launch and operation of the UAE BBCs.

They said these centres will further develop stronger trade sector ties between the UK and the UAE and will further assist in the expansion of British businesses in the UAE.

“The plan for [setting up] a British Business Centre in Dubai... would be by the end of Q1 2014. So we have a target launch date March 2014. And we want to follow that with the business centre in Abu Dhabi in… October or November 2014,” Davidson told this scribe after the launch.

“[Monday] is the launch of the implementation stage. We are recruiting a chief executive officer and a team and that team will make the necessary preparation to launch the business centre,” he said.

At the moment, the UK government has plans to have these business centres in Qatar and Kuwait and also having discussions with Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, he added.

“The Dubai Economic Department already houses incubations business centres. So we are looking at office space in one of those buildings. The business plan is to bring 50 companies to role in and out to incubator each year. They can stay for 12 months before they can set up their own business,” he said.

He mentioned that there is huge potential for this initiative and the BBC might give chances to another 50 companies. “When we start, we anticipate 20-30 companies [to join].” Now the UAE is one of those markets which is much more competitive, but easier to enter, he said, adding that companies under the BBC will mainly target the education, healthcare, financial professional services and infrastructure sectors.

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