Press release

Trade minister brings UK business delegation to the Gulf

Lord Livingston has begun a 3 day visit to the UAE and Qatar to help cement the position of the UK as a long term trade and investment partner.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

  • first Fortnum and Mason store to open outside the UK
  • two new British Business Centres to open in UAE

Lord Livingston has begun a 3 day visit to the UAE and Qatar to help cement the position of the UK as a long term trade and investment partner for the Gulf nations.

The UK Trade and Investment Minister is leading a delegation of more than 40 UK businesses from the retail, luxury and creative industries to showcase their world-leading products and demonstrate the excellence that the UK has to offer.

During his visit to Dubai, Lord Livingston will attend the first Fortnum and Mason store opening outside of the UK. Many of the UK’s most distinguished brands are already located in the UAE, including Thomas Pink, Mulberry, Anya Hindmarch and Stella McCartney.

The UAE is Britain’s largest civil export market in the Middle East and the twelfth largest in the world. The UK and UAE governments have committed to an ambitious target to increase bilateral trade to £12 billion by 2015, which is on track to be achieved.

To encourage more business with the UAE, the UK is opening 2 new British Business Centres in the country to support Britain’s small and mid-sized firms, providing them with a soft landing to test the waters and see if the market is a good fit for their goods or services. UK companies will have access to fully serviced office space at heavily discounted rates and practical support in establishing a presence in the country. The first of the centres will open in Dubai in April (2014), the second will open in Abu Dhabi later this year (2014).

Lord Livingston said:

I’m delighted to be visiting the United Arab Emirates and Qatar for the first time as Trade and Investment Minister. British companies remain at the cutting edge of global creativity which makes us a natural partner for these vibrant trading nations.

British firms are experiencing increasing global demand and want to succeed in the Gulf. That’s why I am launching GREAT Week UAE to put UK companies in the spotlight and increasing our support for small and mid-sized businesses exporting to the region with 2 new British Business Centres in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Lord Livingston will also launch GREAT Week UAE, part of the GREAT Britain campaign which showcases the very best of what Britain has to offer. UAE consumers have long been attracted to the heritage, range and sophistication of British brands and GREAT Week UAE will shine the spotlight on up-and-coming designers and talent from both countries and identify future collaboration and investment opportunities.

Around 120,000 British nationals live and work in the UAE and there are over 4,000 British companies operating in the country including Shell, Rolls Royce, HSBC and Standard Chartered.

After his time in the UAE, Lord Livingston will travel to Qatar to champion UK commercial expertise following the success of London 2012 and its ability to help deliver Qatar’s £220 billion infrastructure investment programme including the FIFA World Cup in 2022.

Notes to Editors:

1. UAE:

  • the UAE is the UK’s largest civil export market in the Middle East, with bilateral trade in goods and services reaching £10.6 billion for 2012. This is an increase of 9.3% on 2011
  • for January to September 2013 export of goods to the UAE was £6,235,244,116, compared to £5,259,894,262 for the same period of 2012. This is an increase of 11%
  • in the first half of 2013 exports grew 9% (compared to the same period in 2012) and reached £2,843 million. Imports grew considerably by 59% to £1,427 million for the same period
  • in 2012 UK exports to the UAE amounted to £5,101 million and in the first half of 2013 the UAE emerged as our 12th biggest export partner
  • UKTI aims to increase bilateral trade in goods and services to £12 billion by 2015 (from £7.5 billion in 2009)
  • major UK companies with investments in UAE include BP, Shell, Rolls Royce, BAE Systems, Mott McDonald, SERCO, Standard Chartered, HSBC and RBS
  • key export opportunities exist for UK companies in airports, aerospace, railway, metro, infrastructure projects and professional services
  • there are 3 High Value Opportunities (HVOs) for UK businesses: airports development, the UAE rail development programme and the Saadiyat Island development to provide leisure, tourism and civic and cultural facilities for 145,000 people
  • key investment opportunities into the UK include innovation, regeneration, green technology and setting up European headquarters

2. Expo 2020:

  • not only will Dubai Expo 2020 be the first to be held in the Middle East, it will also be the closest the Expo has ever been to Africa and South Asia, truly bringing to life the theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’
  • there really could not be a better location, which is why the British government has been fully behind the Dubai bid
  • the UK has a proud heritage in holding international events, with ‘The Great Exhibition’ – the precursor to the Expo – taking place in London’s Hyde Park in 1851, up to the present day with the tremendous success of London 2012
  • UK expertise in delivering such events is held in high regard globally, and given our close and historic links with the UAE, British businesses stand in good stead to compete for at least £1.2 billion (AED7.3 billion) of business planning, designing and delivering the Dubai Expo 2020 site, with UK firm Arup already closely involved in the development of the plan for the bid

3. Qatar:

  • the UK and Qatar have a strong trade and investment relationship. Bilateral trade between the 2 countries was more than £5 billion in 2012 and is growing year on year
  • UK exported £1.46 billion worth of goods to Qatar in 2013. UK exports a wide range of products to Qatar including: power generating machinery and equipment, general industrial machinery, road vehicles, general transport equipment, chemicals, luxury goods and scientific equipment. UK export of services includes: professional services, consultancy, banking, insurance and financial services
  • Qatar has a large portfolio of investments in the UK, which amount to more than £22 billion, covering a wide range of investments such as the Shard, the Olympic Village, the Shell Centre, the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square, shareholdings in Barclays, Sainsbury’s and BAA, as well as ownership of Harrods

4. UK Trade and Investment

UKTI is the government department that helps UK-based companies succeed in the global economy. We also help overseas companies bring their high quality investment to the UK’s economy – acknowledged as Europe’s best place from which to succeed in global business. UKTI offers expertise and contacts through its extensive network of specialists in the UK, and in British embassies and other diplomatic offices around the world. We provide companies with the tools they require to be competitive on the world stage. For more information on UKTI, visit or visit the online newsroom at

5.In the 2012 Autumn Statement, UKTI was awarded an additional £70 million for each of 2013/14 and 2014/15, enabling the recruitment of more international trade advisers around the country, expansion of existing services including the Trade Access Programme (TAP) and the Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS), and support to expand the range of assistance available to UK companies through overseas British chambers of commerce.

6.The government’s economic policy objective is to achieve ‘strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries’. It set 4 ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’, published at Budget 2011:

  • to create the most competitive tax system in the G20
  • to make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business
  • to encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy
  • to create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe

Work is underway across government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the government wants the economy to travel.

Published 17 March 2014