UK’s Middle East minister eyes closer trade ties with UAE

James Cleverly met key UAE figures to discuss investment opportunities

Britain's Conservative Party Chairman James Cleverly is seen outside Downing Street in London, Britain, October 18, 2019.  REUTERS/Hannah McKay
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Britain’s Middle East minister James Cleverly said he was keen for the UAE and UK to work more closely on economic matters, as he met key Emirati finance figures on Tuesday.

He toured the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque with Minister of Culture and Youth Noura Al Kaabi and discussed plans for Dubai Expo 2020 with Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation.

He also met Minister of State Ahmed Al Sayegh, the co-chairman of the UAE-UK Business Council, as part of a visit to the UAE.

“I discussed with HE Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh the important role of the UAE-UK Business Council which he co-chairs with Sir Ed Lister,” Mr Cleverly said on Twitter.

“I’m always keen to understand how we can work more closely on trade, investment and economic diversification,” he said.

Mr Cleverly also met Khaldoon Al Mubarak, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Affairs Authority, to discuss “the warm relationship and many shared interests” between the UAE and UK.

Before that, Mr Cleverly held an online meeting with the UK’s embassy team in the UAE.

He thanked the UAE earlier this year for its help in repatriating British citizens during the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

A webinar last month heard how the UAE is ready for business with the UK.

The UAE is the UK’s 18th largest trading partner, 14th biggest export market and its 20th largest import market, according to the UAE-UK Business Council. Britain’s Brexit transition period expires at the end of the year, with both UK and UAE minsters previously saying they want to agree to a trade deal.