The UAE is open for business following the Covid-19 pandemic and says its handling of the crisis makes it a global role model and an ideal partner for the UK as it nears its exit from the European Union and discussions on the opening of an air corridor ramp up.
Delegates at an Arab-British Chamber of Commerce webinar, supported by the Embassy of the UAE in London, said Brexit is opening up more opportunities for trade along with the possibility of a more relaxed air corridor between the Emirates and the UK.
“I see good news happening with regards to the air bubble and the corridor between the UAE and UK government … to decrease the number of procedures and policies a typical passenger will go through,” Ayman Al Awadhi, group managing director of The Corporate Group, told the UAE is Open for Business webinar. “This will be a very crucial and effective measurement [and] will reduce the barrier and make it more convenient to do business between the UAE and UK."
Mr Al Awadhi said the proposed air bubble will extend all the way to India, allowing the Asian nation to also benefit from the increased connectivity between the UK and UAE.
Abdeslam El-Idrissi, deputy secretary general and chief executive of the Arab British Chamber of Commerce, said the British government is in discussions with the UAE government for an air corridor to stop the 14-day quarantine requirement.
“I don’t know if that’s been finalised,” he said, commending the UAE’s commitment to host conferences and open itself up to international business visitors.
Local events and conferences opened up in Dubai on September 15, with international events starting on October 1. In December, the emirate will host four major events such as Gitex Technology week and the Future Block Chain Summit.
Meanwhile, all economic sectors have reopened since their closure at the height of pandemic, with malls, cinemas, spas and gyms operational since the end of June, nurseries and schools reopening in the summer and social events and weddings set to restart at the end of this month.
“It’s more evidence that the UAE is back on track from the pandemic and the challenge it has brought to the whole universe,” said Al Awadhi. ”We are welcoming tourists and business people who are accessing the country here.”
Mr Al Awadhi said a fourth stimulus package of Dh0.5bn in Dubai on October 22 extended the support for businesses in the emirate to a total of Dh6.8bn since the start of the crisis, “further evidence that the UAE economy and government is doing its best to support the business ecosystem”.
He also pointed to Dubai’s new remote working visa for employees of overseas companies and its retirement visa for the over 55s as a way to “encourage people to relocate to the UAE and consider it a new home to do business”.
The UAE’s “aggressive” handling of the crisis should also be commended, he said, because of the “transparency and avoidance of creating disruption and confusion for the people”. This, he said, has made the country a global role model in terms of crisis management.
Bandar Reda, secretary general and chief executive of the Arab British Chamber of Commerce, said looking towards 2021, the UAE and the UK are keen to deepen their cooperation and expect opportunities to grow as Covid-19 tapers off.
“The forthcoming Dubai Expo will present a unique opportunity for businesses … Furthermore, the post-Brexit environment is opening up more opportunities for productive private sectors engaging," he said. "It is clear that this is an opportunity moment to reinforce the historic and deep inroads between the UK and the UAE. The chamber is geared up and ready to help exporters and investors.”
With more than 5,000 British companies operating in the UAE and 1.5 million British tourists visiting the country in 2015, the UAE can offer “multiple opportunities to the UK as it leaves the EU,” said Marwan Alnaqbi, head of the economics department at the UAE Embassy in London.
Mr El-Idrissi said: “As Brexit is clicking in between UK trade with the EU, it is very important for people to know that trading with the Arab world has not changed - business continues as usual.”