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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 November 2018

British Royal wants new partnerships in Gulf

Prince Andrew seeks to expand scheme to promote entrepreneurship

The UK's Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, at Pitch@Palace on Sunday. Chris Whiteoak / The National
The UK's Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, at Pitch@Palace on Sunday. Chris Whiteoak / The National

A senior member of the British Royal family said he is keen to build stronger links with Gulf countries.

Prince Andrew, who is seventh in line to the British throne, said he wants to cultivate new partnerships in the region as he seeks to expand his scheme that promotes entrepreneurship.

Speaking at an event in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, when young innovators made business pitches to a gathering of private-sector leaders, the Duke of York said he wanted to grow his initiative in the Middle East, specifically in Saudi Arabia.

Four of the entrepreneurs won the opportunity to promote their businesses at a ­final, global event at St James’s Palace in London in December.

His Pitch@Palace scheme, launched in the UK in 2014, already has strong backing from the highest levels of the UAE Government, with the competition held under the patronage of Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

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It is also supported by the government-backed Khalifa Fund, which promotes entrepreneurship in the Emirates.

“We have been expanding over the past two years to include other members of the GCC,” the prince said in his opening remarks at Emirates Palace.

“What we are doing with Pitch in this part of the world is to work in partnership, first of all with the Khalifa Fund but also with Bahrain ... and hopefully in the future with Saudi Arabia and other parts of this world.”

Explaining how his scheme operates, Andrew said: “It’s very important to remember that Pitch works for the entrepreneurs in a country, with the country.”

In his closing remarks, he thanked the UAE for hosting the event.

“It’s hugely important for us to have partners in the region, we look forward to working in Bahrain with our partners there and, as time goes by, we hope to expand also into Saudi and other GCC countries.”

The competition in the UAE was expanded this year to include entrants from Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

Prince Andrew’s positive remarks about Saudi Arabia’s participation in the scheme came despite controversy over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi embassy in Turkey this month.

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