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Dubai trade trip offers tea and opportunities for British business

You might say that trade and investment minister Lord Livingston has nipped over to Dubai for a cuppa, but since he is visiting the first Fortnum and Mason store to open on foreign shores, he’s doing his bit for British business.

The minister is spending three days in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar to promote the UK as a long-term trade and investment partner for the Gulf nations. Lord Livingston is leading a delegation of more than 40 UK businesses from the retail, luxury and creative industries to show what the UK has to offer.

Many top UK brands are already readily available in these Gulf states, with such brands as Thomas Pink, Mulberry, Anya Hindmarch and Stella McCartney having a presence in the UAE. Fortnum and Mason, where Lord Livingston will pay a visit, is the latest brand to establish a presence there, opening its first store outside the UK.

The UAE is Britain’s largest civil export market in the Middle East and the twelfth largest in the world. The UK and UAE governments have committed to an ambitious target to increase bilateral trade to £12 billion by 2015, which UK Trade and Industry (UKTI) claims is on track to be achieved.

To encourage more business with the UAE, the UK is opening two new British Business Centres in the country to support Britain’s small and mid-sized firms, providing them with a “soft landing” to test the waters and see if the market is a good fit for their goods or services. UK companies will have access to fully serviced office space at heavily discounted rates and practical support in establishing a presence in the country. The first of the centres will open in Dubai in April (2014), the second will open in Abu Dhabi later this year (2014).

“I’m delighted to be visiting the United Arab Emirates and Qatar for the first time as trade and investment minister. British companies remain at the cutting edge of global creativity which makes us a natural partner for these vibrant trading nations,” said Lord Livingston.

Around 120,000 British nationals live and work in the UAE and there are over 4,000 British companies operating in the country including Shell, Rolls Royce, HSBC and Standard Chartered.

After his time in the UAE, Lord Livingston will travel to Qatar to champion UK commercial expertise following the success of London 2012 and its ability to help deliver Qatar’s £220 billion infrastructure investment programme including the FIFA World Cup in 2022.

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