UK seeks role rebuilding Libya

The UAE teams up with the UK and a number of leading businessmen to assist the rebuilding of economies hit by the Arab Spring - with video.

Lord Green says that ‘as Libya looks to embark on its reconstruction, there’s a massive opportunity there’.
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Business chiefs from the UAE and the UK have banded together to chase reconstruction contracts in Libya and other Arab Spring countries.

Video:Business relations between the UAE and UK to be strengthened

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Britain and the Emirates have established a business council that is expected to boost trade flows and provide an opportunity for companies from the two countries to collaborate around the world.

However, Libya represents a clear opportunity for businesses from the two countries to invest, said Lord Green, the UK minister for trade and investments, who is leading a trade delegation to the UAE.

"As Libya looks to embark on its reconstruction, there's a massive opportunity there," he said.

"The UAE and the UK have both got businesses which may want to look to opportunities there."

With Libya's economy requiring substantial investment to get back on track after six months of civil war, the UAE Government hopes that the North African country's interimleaders will turn to the Emirates.

As the dust of the Arab Spring settles, the UAE wants to be the leading partner for countries affected by unrest, said Sultan Al Mansouri, the Minister of Economy.

"Together, we have the ability to do this kind of partnership in other countries in the region," Mr Al Mansouri added.

"Other countries in the region trust the UAE and trust the UAE's businesses."

Revolutionary movements toppled governments in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia this year, leaving profound economic troubles in their wake as investors withdrew funds and growth stalled.

The move by the UK to link up with the UAE in its efforts to be involved in reconstruction was politically shrewd, said Theodore Karasik, the director of research and development at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis.

"It's a natural fit that the two countries would work together to build Libya," he said.

"It tears down the old stereotype that it's a western European country trying to mould a North Africa or Middle Eastern country in its own view, and it shows the level of trust between the UK and the UAE on the future of Libya," said Mr Karasik.

Other countries may seek to replicate the agreement with the assistance of other Arab nations, he added.

Alongside Nato countries such as France and the US, and Arab states including Qatar and Jordan, the UK and the UAE participated in air strikes against Colonel Muammar Qaddafi's forces to enforce a UN-sanctioned no-fly zone over Libya.

Many companies are racing to re-establish links severed by the outbreak of hostilities in Libya now that the country's civil war appears to have reached its final act.

The UAE was increasing investment in Libya before the onset of the civil war, and many companies have been anxious to resume operations.

National Bank of Abu Dhabi, First Gulf Bank and OMV, an Austrian energy producer that is 20 per cent owned by Abu Dhabi's International Petroleum Investment Company, wereamong those companies whose Libyan operations were closed during the civil war.

Only a week after Tripoli fell to rebel forces, Paolo Scaroni, the chief executive of Italy's Eni, became the first chief executive of a major oil company to arrive in Libya.

Mr Scaroni signed an agreement to provide emergency fuel supplies to Libya and restart operations on a pipeline bringing oil and natural gas to Italy.