Chairman of the British Business Group, Nick Dutt, has hailed this month’s ‘Britain in the Region’ event as an ideal opportunity for British businesses established in the UAE to gain a foothold in markets across the Middle East.
The BBG is taking part in the event on May 17, which has been organised by the British Embassy Dubai and UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) to give British businesses with a presence in the region an insight into other Middle Eastern and North African markets.
UKTI, the UK Government's international business development organisation, estimates that UK exports to the Middle East region were worth more than £10 billion (approx US$ 19.9 billion) in 2006 with exports to Bahrain and Qatar up by 45 and nearly 35 per cent respectively. In addition the UK now exports more products and services to Saudi Arabia than the whole of Latin America.
The UAE is the UK’s largest export market in the region and the ninth largest worldwide, according to UK Government figures for 2005. UK exports to the UAE totalled £5.57 billion (approx US$ 11.1 billion) in 2005, an increase of more than 100 per cent on the previous year. Exports to Dubai alone accounted for 85 per cent of the overall figure recording a rise of 135 per cent compared with 2004.
This increasingly strong commercial relationship between the UK and the UAE led to the announcement by the British Government last year that the UAE has been identified as one of its ten key ‘emerging markets’ where the UK is keen to deepen trade and investment relations.
At the ‘Britain in the Region’ event, taking place at the Al Murooj Rotana Hotel in Dubai, senior trade and investment officers from British Embassies and Trade Offices in 14 countries across the region, including Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Syria, Tunisia and Libya, will be present to offer advice to UK businesses hoping to enter these markets.
“The Middle East and North African region is becoming increasingly important for British businesses and ‘Britain in the Region’ is a great initiative, which we are very happy to support,” said Dutt. “There are many British companies with regional headquarters in Dubai and the UAE looking for ways to engage with other markets in the region and this event offers opportunities to build knowledge and links. The Middle East region is widely spread so it is great to have representatives for all the key markets under one roof.”
The BBG, set up in 1987 to encourage the development of British business in the UAE, now has around 900 members and is looking to promote its services to potential new members during the event. The group undertakes a wide range of activities from communicating with decision makers and testing British goods to sharing best business practice and arranging networking events for its members.
“For us this is an effective way to raise our profile with non-members here in Dubai and also add value for existing members,” said Dutt. “The event demonstrates the capabilities of the British Embassy’s commercial sections. By creating a ‘regional hub’ role in the Dubai office the Embassy has shown its recognition of the importance of Dubai as a regional business centre and how it can help British companies develop across the region.”
The British Business Group, Dubai & Northern Emirates, more usually known as the BBG, is led by an elected committee of members and operates under the auspices of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry. It is recognised by the UAE authorities as the representative body of British companies and individuals operating in Dubai and the Northern Emirates.
Since its inception the BBG has undergone huge growth and now has around 900 members and holds around 70 networking events, forums and seminars each year. It is widely recognised as one of the largest and most active business groups in the Gulf and is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.
Its activities include a cost-effective Product Testing Service that allows British companies to identify how their product or service would compete in the regional markets. The BBG is also the official body for provision of British Standards in Dubai and the Northern Emirates.
The BBG’s events include regular monthly working luncheons, dinner and breakfast meetings and networking sessions, which provide a forum for members and guests to discuss their views and frequently feature guest speakers from the British and UAE business worlds. Its monthly Special Interest Groups provide a forum for members with a common interest and include Banking & Finance, Construction, Education and Real Estate.
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