UAE ‘largest market for UK in the Middle East’

Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of Foreign Trade, has said the UAE and UK could conquer any and all obstacles to their sustained growth and success by fostering a spirit of co-operation and positivity. Addressing renowned business personalities at an event organised by the British Business Group, she said the United Kingdom has been a steady and reliable partner for the UAE. « Even amid today’s economic crisis, our collaboration remains highly productive. The UAE continues to be the largest market in the Middle East for the UK, » said Sheikha Lubna. « Now more than ever, amid a global financial crisis that challenges our development agendas, we need to foster a spirit of cooperation and positivism that can conquer any and all obstacles to our sustained growth and success. » The newly appointed UK Business Ambassador Lord Digby Jones said an example could be set by the oil producing countries of this region by producing peaceful, safer nuclear energy. He said that knowledge economy was the way to be. « During such times we have to focus on building skills and training of people. » He said post this phase, the world would not be the same again. « It would take time for banks to get their confidence back, he said while adding that instead of trying to indulge in a blame game it was time to take things forward. » Assuring the business heads of UK in UAE a continual support, Sheikha Lubna said: « I take this opportunity, to congratulate the BBG for Dubai and the Northern Emirates, for hosting this wonderful venue for us to reaffirm our commitment to supporting our British partners and assuring you all that the UAE, particularly Dubai and the Northern Emirates, remain ready to meet your needs and realise your goals. » She said trade had made this region successful and commitment to trade would ensure its continual growth. Mentioning the ongoing global crisis, the UAE Minister said the time called for better vigilance from the business community and stronger commitment. « This calls for more vigilance from us as dynamic members of the trading community; we must encourage countries throughout the world to continue to sustain trading levels that spur economic activities, rather than resort to protectionism, » she said. UAE’s role in global commerce continues to expand, she added. « The UAE’s role in global commerce has expanded considerably despite the less than optimal conditions of the money markets. Just recently, we were named as one of the top 30 trading nations and the first in the Arab World by the World Trade Organisation. Our share in global trade rose $41 billion (Dh150.4bn) from $234bn in 2006 to $275bn in 2007. We recorded a GDP of $698bn for the same year, continuing a compounded annual growth rate of 23 per cent over the past four years. » She said the region has become a preferred destination for investments into growth areas such as real estate, construction, tourism, utilities and aluminium production. « These and other non-carbon economic sectors will generate around 70 per cent of the national revenue by 2010. All in all, the UAE has totally transitioned into a flexible, vibrant and vital player in today’s global business and trading movements. » The UAE also supplied around a third of the Gulf’s £3.22bn (Dh18.1bn) exports to the UK last year, with Dubai accounting for 65 per cent of the figure. « Our country’s inclusion in UK Trade and Investments’ High Growth Markets Programme secures a long and fruitful commercial partnership between our nations. « In return, the UAE maintains a safe, enjoyable and productive environment for the more than 120,000 British citizens living in our shores. We have enjoyed considerable British investments into our burgeoning real estate, construction and tourism industries. We maintain numerous significant investments in British business interests spanning sectors such as manufactured goods, telecommunications equipment and industrial machinery, etc. » Shveta Pathak