Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, attended the launch in London of a new initiative that will foster social and business ties between people in the UK and UAE.
The Emirates Society is an initiative by Sulaiman Al Mazroui, the UAE ambassador to Britain , and is designed to broaden links between the two countries.
The project aims to promote an understanding of Emirati culture and foster ties between British and Emirati businesses through cultural and social events.
It was launched on Wednesday in central London in the presence of ministers, politicians and representatives of world-renowned brands.
"Collaboration between the UK and the UAE can be seen in all four corners of the UK. From DP World’s London Gateway, to the all-conquering Manchester City football team, and Masdar’s clean energy investments in Scotland," Mr Al Mazroui said.
"These links continue to grow. [The society could become] the home of cultural events and social occasions, as well as talks by politicians and academics.”
There was a broad welcome for the new meeting point from those with a long-running involvement with the UAE.
Graham Outterside, country director of Rolls-Royce in Abu Dhabi, moved to the UAE 18 years ago. He worked on the construction of Dubai’s iconic marina and two years ago he moved to the aerospace and engine manufacturing business.
“Because we are a relatively new organisation in the UAE, we are too dependent on expats,” Mr Outterside told The National.
The newly-founded Emirates Society will provide an opportunity for the company to meet “local talent” to train as future leaders in the high-technology aerospace manufacturing industry, he said.
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Abu Dhabi’s British Business Group, an association of British business people aimed at encouraging trade, saw the move as a “great innovation.”
“The world is more and more competitive, so we need to up our game as British businesses,” said Nick Cochrane-Dyet, chairman of the British Business Group in Abu Dhabi.
In light of Brexit, creating new business opportunities outside Europe’s borders has become increasingly important, he said.
Debunking “misunderstandings about the Middle East” that are fuelled by reports of war and chaos is also a task that the Society will take upon itself.
“The UAE is an amazing oasis of tranquillity in the middle of all this,” Mr Cochrane-Dyet said, adding that the level of security and tolerance found in the country is still not understood by people in the UK.
Mr Mazroui also made reference to the “strong trading links, and our partnership in the pursuit of peace and moderation in the Middle East”.
Britain currently accounts for the largest foreign direct investment into the UAE.