Your Excellencies, honoured guests, welcome to the opening of the GREAT Advanced Engineering and Innovation exhibition and conference, a celebration of British world-class excellence.
We are honoured to be holding this event under the patronage of His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander, First Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the Economic Development Board. I am most grateful to His Royal Highness for his continued unstinting support for the UK/Bahrain relationship.
Today’s event follows the success of the exhibition and conference we organized at the Bahrain International Circuit during GREAT British Week in January 2014, again with sponsorship from and in close collaboration with our good friends and partners, the Economic Development Board. And I am delighted to be joined here today by the excellent new Chief Executive of the EDB, His Excellency Khalid Al Rumaihi.
Today is about showcasing British world-class excellence in advanced engineering and innovation, taking advantage of the fact that the UK is a key player in the world of Formula One, and motorsport generally, which of course is why we are all in Bahrain this weekend. But it is also a celebration of the close business ties between the UK and Bahrain.
The UK is at the global cutting edge of advanced engineering and innovation. Internationally renowned British companies and born-global British SMEs are building on our distinguished legacy of quality manufacturing, continuing to develop pioneering products and technologies that are sold all over the world.
Some of you may be under the misapprehension that the UK is all about services these days. Didn’t the UK stop manufacturing? Well, I’ve got news for you. The UK is the world’s sixth largest manufacturer, with strong positions in key industries such as aerospace and automotive. Around 25 percent of British manufacturers operate in high technology, R&D-focused industries that require a highly skilled and specialist workforce. That’s why in each of the last 4 years the UK has attracted the largest number of foreign direct investment projects in Europe.
The UK’s aerospace industry, employing around 230,000 people, is Europe’s largest and the world’s second largest. This seems an appropriate moment to congratulate one of our partners today, Rolls Royce, on their whopping 6 billion pound deal announced on Friday to supply engines for 50 Emirates A380 planes. This is Rolls Royce’s largest ever engine order, and I hope that we will see further orders here in Bahrain with Gulf Air, a long-standing Rolls Royce customer.
I am very grateful to our other GREAT British partners today: BAE Systems, JCB, McLaren and National Express for their support. During the course of the morning you will be introduced to some of the very latest technological advances by these GREAT British companies.
In the UK automotive sector, which employs three quarters of a million people including 140,000 people in manufacturing, the Financial Times forecasts that by 2017 we will be producing more than 2 million cars a year, breaking the 1972 record of 1.9 million cars. This is testament to the burgeoning global reputation of UK automotive excellence and demand for British-made cars. 80% of cars made in the UK are exported. We are exporting cars at a record rate amid strong international demand for luxury British brands.
And as I’m sure all you Formula enthusiasts will be aware, currently 7 of the 10 Formula 1 teams are based in the UK. The UK’s “Motorsport Valley” employs over 25,000 world-class engineers, while more than 15 universities offer motorsport engineering and management degrees.
This seems an appropriate moment therefore to once again welcome students from St Christopher’s School who will be demonstrating the Formula 1 in Schools programme this morning. Established in the UK in 1999 Formula 1 in Schools is now operational in 40 countries involving 20 million students. Its vision is to offer young people a fun and exciting way to learn Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths related subjects, which is helping to increase the intake of students into engineering careers, including positions in Formula One teams. I wish St Christopher’s every success at the World Finals in Singapore later this year.
Before I hand over to Khalid let me say how much I’m sure we’re all looking forward to the race this evening. Great to see Lewis Hamilton on pole. Incidentally, his team, Mercedes AMG Petronas… yeah, you guessed it. Based in the UK, in Brackley in England. I hope we will see a repeat of the superb race that we witnessed under the lights last year, with the same outcome!
So without further ado, Your Excellencies, honoured guests, please give a warm welcome to the new CEO of the EDB, Khaled Al Rumaihi.