UK firms urged to explore Mena through Dubai hub

Opportunities exist in £15b expo-related infrastructure projects

By Abdul Basit

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Published: Tue 18 Mar 2014, 8:37 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 10:30 PM

The UK Minister of State for Trade and Investment Lord Livingston has urged UK companies to grab the opportunities available in £15 billion infrastructure projects related with Expo 2020 in Dubai and also use the emirate as a hub to explore other markets in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region.

Frances Moffett-Kouadio, director at UK Trade and Investment, Abu Dhabi; Alison Hubbard, partner, Pinsent Mason, Dubai; Jonathan Davidson, British Business Group, Abu Dhabi; Joe Hepworth, CEO of British Business Centre, UAE and Linda Hunt from British Business Group, Abu Dhabi, at the panel discussion. –KT photo by Grace Guino

In his opening address at the UK Trade & Investment’s networking conference in Dubai on Monday, the minister also invited the investors from the region to invest in the UK. Titled: ‘Britain in the region’, the conference is part of ‘Great Week UAE’, which was officially kicked off at a reception in Dubai late Sunday.

“We as a country UK uniquely open and welcoming investment from the region. We see huge opportunities in infrastructure projects in the region,” the minister said, adding that supply chain and logistics is another area of opportunity.

He also mentioned that Emarati investment in the UK is enormous and more than £22 billion. The UAE-UK trade balance is forecasted to exceed £12 billion by 2015, he added.

In 2012, bilateral trade volume was £10.6 billion. Two-way trade in goods jumped by 13.7 per cent to £8.36 in 2013, according to British Embassy in Dubai.

Talking about the long-term UK ties with GCC countries, he said: “Knowledge transfer is part of our relationship.”

He urged British businesses to take the advantage of Dubai as a hub and explore the opportunities available in Mena region with local partnership. He said that Mena region has a lot of opportunities for businesses and investors.

Talking about Egypt, he said there is potential for growth in the country’s economy despite political issues.

“We see very big opportunity in Egypt this time,” he added. He also gave another example of Afghanistan and said opportunities are also available in the country.

He said the UK is the most innovative country in the world. Mentioning about London Olympics in 2012, he said: “We delivered not just games, but delivered innovative games.”

The conference also hosted eight panel discussions on key markets in the Mena region that include ‘doing business’ in UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt, Libya, Lebanon, Kuwait, Oman and Iraq.

Industry experts from respective countries and UKTI officials highlighted the opportunities available in the region and the way to enter the markets. —

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