UK and UAE to build on £1bn life sciences pact with clean energy investments

British investment minister Lord Grimstone says green revolution offers 'exciting opportunities' for both countries

The UK and UAE are investing in world-leading technology, energy, infrastructure and life sciences sectors
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The UK and UAE governments plan to build on their £1 billion partnership to invest in Britain’s life sciences sector announced earlier this year by boosting investments in clean energy, as well as advanced manufacturing, technology and infrastructure, as they aim to be at the forefront of the “green revolution”.

Lord Gerry Grimstone, UK Minister for Investment at the Department for International Trade, told delegates attending a webinar on the future business and investment relationship between Britain and the Emirates that “exciting opportunities” in the renewables sector are being examined by both nations.

“Our two nations are well placed to complement each other," Lord Grimstone told delegates attending the virtual session hosted by Emirates Society and the UAE-UK Business Council.

He said he was well aware of some "very exciting projects" being examined in the clean energy sector, including hydrogen and carbon capture.

Lord Grimstone said “leading energy companies” will want to be at the “forefront of the green revolution”, with any future collaboration in this area complementing the significant investment already made into the UK by the UAE this year.

Under the Sovereign Investment Partnership, signed by the two countries in March, Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Company pledged to plough £800 million into the life sciences sector over the next five years while £200m will come from the UK’s Life Sciences Investment Programme.

“We have been working intensively over the past year to revamp our bilateral trading and investment relationship, identifying sectors of shared interest, which of course have become even more prevalent following Covid-19 including life sciences, clean energy, advanced manufacturing and FinTech,” Lord Grimstone said.

The two countries are expected to honour their financial commitments around the Sovereign Investment Partnership soon, with money also set to be invested in innovation-led sectors such as energy transition and infrastructure.

Gerry Grimstone, chairman of Standard Life Aberdeen Plc and deputy chairman of Barclays Plc, speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview on the sidelines of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference in Boao, China, on Monday, April 9, 2018. Grimstone praised the authoritarian leadership of President Xi Jinping and endorsed China as a beacon of stability amid rising tensions between the Asian trading giant and the U.S. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Lord Grimstone said the March commitment from one of the world's largest and most active sovereign investment funds, into the UK’s “world-leading technology, energy, infrastructure and life sciences sectors” is a vote of confidence.

The investment strengthens Britain’s “innovation-led industries of the future”, he said, while also “enabling closer business ties, which will benefit the economies of both the UK and the UAE”.

“I've got no doubt this will highlight other exciting partnerships to help grow our trade and investment relationship,” Lord Grimstone said.

The growing ties between the UAE and the UK come at a pivotal time for the Emirates, which is celebrating its 50th year since unification this year, as well as the start of Expo 2020 Dubai on October 1.

Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade, told the seminar that the UK is a long-standing and trusted partner of the Emirates, with the strong bilateral relationship dating back to the birth of the nation 50 years ago.

“It's a relationship and indeed a friendship reinforced by close economic cooperation, strategic alliances, cultural celebrations on trade exchange, as well as partnerships,” he said.

More than 120,000 Britons call the UAE home while over 6,000 UK businesses are registered in the Emirates.

With the UAE looking to double its total economic output to Dh3 trillion by 2031, Dr Al Zeyoudi said the country was “particularly excited by the possibilities” in the life sciences sector as well as renewable energy.

"The UAE believes that our relationships with like-minded, outward looking economies such as the UK will be essential components to achieve this ambition, and areas for potential collaboration between our both nations are constantly expanding," Dr Al Zeyoudi said.

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, June 30, 2019.   Abu Dhabi Climate Meeting at the Emirates Palace.-- His Excellency Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment.
Victor Besa/The National
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Reporter:  John Dennehy

In the same year it is hosting the Cop26 environment summit, Britain has set the world’s most ambitious climate change target: to reduce emissions by 68 per cent by 2030 compared with 1990 levels, by 78 per cent by 2035, and to be net zero by 2050.

Meanwhile, the UAE has pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 23.5 per cent by 2030, while the country’s National Energy and Climate Plan 2020 calls for clean energy to represent half of the nation’s total energy mix by 2050.

Other areas of collaboration include the environment, security, logistics, education, scientific research and advanced technologies, Dr Al Zeyoudi said, “which are all aligned with the UAE’s and UK’s economy regeneration for the post-covid era”.

“In today's increasingly complex and fast changing environment, the UAE is putting a priority in our economy on the future growth by strengthening global trade ties and building on our role as one of the world's leading business centres,” said Dr Al Zeyoudi.

He said the £800m investment by Mubadala in March was evidence of the long-term nature of any investment agreements with the DIT.

Both ministers also lauded the significance of the UK Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, which will also host the next Joint Economic Committee on October 18, for highlighting the UK's expertise in the field of AI, technology and space.

“Going forward, there are tremendous opportunities for the UK and the UAE, in this field," said Lord Grimstone.

He added that the six-month showcase of business and innovation will be an ideal opportunity for UK and UAE companies to promote their services, products and innovations.

Lord Grimstone said the recently concluded UK / GCC joint Trade and Investment Review also provided "a clear overview of the trade and investment relationship between the UK and GCC member states" with "clear recommendations for future cooperation that can be taken forward to deepen our trading at our investment relationship in the long term".

“This important review absolutely boosts the understanding of our respective priorities, and begins to lay the groundwork for future FTA negotiations with the GCC and of course, with individual countries, focusing on emerging sectors of the future, for example, tech and AI," Lord Grimstone said.

Updated: September 15, 2021, 7:06 PM