x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

British minister expands on ambitious plans for UAE companies

British minister cites benefits to UAE, including military collaboration, if deal for Eurofighter Typhoons goes through.

Philip Dunne, the British minister for defence equipment, support and technology has said that if the UAE decided to buy Eurofighter Typhoons, it would benefit through training. Pawan Singh / The National
Philip Dunne, the British minister for defence equipment, support and technology has said that if the UAE decided to buy Eurofighter Typhoons, it would benefit through training. Pawan Singh / The National

DUBAI // Very ambitious plans are being drawn up for Emirati companies to increase civil and defence engineering in the UAE, a UK cabinet member says.

Philip Dunne, the British minister for defence equipment, support and technology said at the Dubai Airshow on Monday that if the UAE decided to buy Eurofighter Typhoons, it would benefit through training.

Discussions involving military collaboration, training and exercises between Britain and the UAE are still under way, with talks about the UK drafting a deal to help the Emirates’ military technology companies sell goods to the European Union.

A Eurofighter Typhoon deal would also lead to marketing of the UAE’s military products in the UK.

The minister said the UAE would need to employ more skilled engineers.

“Attracting young Emirati nationals to go into engineering as a career requires having training regimes in place, colleges, qualified personnel to train them, the right kind of certification and career options,” Mr Dunne said.

“That’s a clear need that the nation has and, if through offset arrangements some help could be provided in that area, that would be very welcome to the Emiratis.

“There are some very ambitious plans to expand the scope of civil and defence engineering activity here in the UAE.”

He said the UK had “a big interest” in trying to promote the Eurofighter Typhoon to all countries in the region.

“We are pleased to have been invited by the UAE to participate in a competition,” Mr Dunne said. “We’re actively engaged in it.

“We’re encouraged that things have been moving positively for some time but we can’t put any timeline on it and we can’t put a certainty on it as to whether it’s going to come about.

“Any fast-jet competition is a very lengthy process. Fast jets are complicated pieces of equipment. They require very significant negotiations over both initial purchase and through-life support arrangements for aircraft.”

He said if the deal happened, it would be positive for military relations between the countries.

“We expect these aircraft to be in service for a couple of decades from now, which would give lots of opportunities for our respective air forces to work together, which would have major industrial benefits for both countries,” Mr Dunne said.

“It would sustain thousands of jobs in the UK and other countries in Europe, and it would also open up supply chain opportunities for companies here in the UAE.”

He said there were some various packages under consideration as part of the proposals that the UK was making and discussing over the Typhoon competition.

Mr Dunne said the 150 British companies at the airshow made it the UK’s largest presence at the event.

“It’s a reflection of the increasingly close relationships that have been formed between companies involved in both civil and military aerospace based in the UK, with counterpart companies here in the UAE,” he said.

“One of the exciting things … is opportunities for UAE companies to get into the supply chains of the major manufacturers and I think this is a trend that’s only going to continue.”

The UK defence secretary, Philip Hammond, confirmed a number of discussions with the UAE were making progress.

Mr Hammond said they were part of building a strong and deep-rooted partnership with the countries in the region.

cmalek@thenational.ae