Collaboration in clean energy and life sciences will play an ever-increasing role in strengthening ties between the UK and the UAE, a trade minister said during a visit to Dubai.
Minister for Export, Graham Stuart MP, was in the UAE checking on the progress of the UK pavilion at the Expo 2020 site in Dubai.
Mr Stuart said talks in the country with representatives from Expo and the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, Dewa, promised much in the way of bilateral agreements in the months and years ahead.
“The Gulf in general and UAE, in particular, are incredibly significant trading partners to the UK,” he said.
“We believe we can open more markets, both for the UK and the UAE capability.
“By working together we’ll be able to have more reach and more effect than we will by working alone.
“We think there’s so much more we can do.”
Trade partnerships between the UK and UAE are significant, with British exports being one and a half times larger to the Emirates than they are to India.
The UAE is the UK’s 20th largest export market globally, accounting for Dh50 billion (£10bn) of UK exports in the year up to Q3 2020.
Bilateral trade currently stands at Dh91bn and UK officials estimate UAE inward investment into the country will exceed Dh178bn in the years to come.
The figures reinforce the UAE’s economic importance to the UK, Mr Stuart said.
During his week-long visit, he met with Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Co-operation and Saeed Al Tayer, chief executive of Dewa.
The visit included the opening of the new electric vehicle charging points recently installed at diplomatic missions in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
That followed the trial run of London-style "black cabs" by the Dubai Taxi Corporation at Dubai International Airport in January.
The British-made fleet of hybrid vehicles was the first to hit the streets of the UAE and could be followed up by hydrogen and electric-powered buses to expand the Roads and Transport Authority's sustainable network of vehicles.
“Our policy now is to have all-electric vehicles for our embassies all around the world,” Mr Stuart said.
“We’ve got the opportunities around the London Electric Vehicle Company’s taxi fleet and potential collaboration on hydrogen.
“So there are real opportunities for us to work together on public transport and hydrogen and electric vehicles. Hydrogen is a very hot topic at the moment.
“Much more progress has been made in tackling emissions in the power sector than it has in transport. Therefore there’s a real desire to develop the technologies.
“Potential collaboration to deliver greener transport is an area I think has huge potential.”
Expanding collaboration on life sciences has placed focus on the availability of British-made vaccines around the world.
With both the UAE and UK leading the way in national vaccination programmes, Mr Stuart said further joint working in this area would help ensure Expo 2020 Dubai is a safe environment for visitors flying in from all over the world.
“I know the UAE is extremely proud of its record on delivery of vaccines and so are we,” he said.
“I think we’re both leading nations and it’s showing us the route out of this pandemic which shows, again, the importance of international collaboration.
“We see real opportunity for further collaboration with the UAE in life sciences.
“The effectiveness of both our countries vaccine programmes shows that we’ve got a lot in common.
“If we pool our expertise we can deliver even more in terms of prosperity at home for both our countries but also in terms of contributing to a safer, healthier world as well."