David Cameron, UK Prime Minister, on the importance of the UK and the Gulf for each other: Viewpoint

David Cameron, UK Prime Minister

The UAE is one of the UK’s most important international partners, and we are proud of our friendship. Like the UK, the UAE has a rich cultural heritage, and we are delighted that its leaders are setting the UAE on an impressive course of innovation and openness.

The UK is globally committed to peace, security, prosperity and development. The extent of this commitment is unique. We give 0.7% of our gross national income to overseas aid. We spend 2% of our GDP on defence. No other member of the G20 meets both of those targets. Our economy has been growing faster than other major advanced economies. Our employment rate is at its highest ever. We remain the top foreign direct investment destination in Europe. EY has just rated London the world’s leading financial technology hub. Thanks to our open, innovative and dynamic economy – and our leadership in global bodies from the G7 and G20 to NATO, the EU and the UN Security Council – we can play key roles promoting global prosperity and security. In February 2016, I convened a conference which produced more than $11bn of new commitments to support the 12m Syrians who have been driven from their homes. The UK alone has so far pledged $3.2bn, second only to the US. Alongside our Gulf allies, the UK has been at the core of the campaign against Daesh, providing a large share of surveillance and reconnaissance across both Iraq and Syria from the start, and conducting hundreds of carefully targeted strikes in Iraq, and now also Syria, without any reports of civilian casualties. The UK and UAE co-chair the coalition’s communications effort to counter Daesh’s poisonous ideology. The UK is also collaborating to counter Daesh in Libya and supporting the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

We are committed to this effort not only because Daesh threatens the UK, but because the security of the Gulf is also our security. Our 1996 Defence Cooperation Accord with the UAE, our squadron of RAF Tornados stationed there, our new naval base in Bahrain and our new National Security Strategy make that clear. The Countering Extremism Strategy, which I launched in October 2015, shows how we will work with our partners to deny the space from which many of these threats emerge. Not only are Gulf security and British security linked, the Gulf’s prosperity is also our prosperity. Trade between the Gulf and the UK was worth $33bn in 2014 – more than our trade with India or China. The UAE is our 14th-biggest export market. We achieved, two years early, the UAE-UK Business Council target of £12bn annual trade. We are now working towards the Council’s new target of £25bn by 2020. British businesses, institutions and individuals have contributed a huge amount to the development of the UAE into the diversified hub it has become. From oil and gas to infrastructure, architecture and design to financial services, aircraft to education, and health care to creative industries, British expertise and excellence have been central, and still are. The UAE has become an important investor in the UK, including £1.5bn in the London Gateway logistics hub, £1bn in UK offshore wind farms, and co-investment with the UK government in the ground-breaking Graphene Institute at the University of Manchester. The UK’s Northern Powerhouse and Midlands Engine, world-beating UK research and innovation, and the UK’s competitive investment climate (with the lowest corporate tax in the G20) offer many more opportunities for UK-UAE partnership. It would be foolish to deny the challenges that confront the UK and the Gulf – security threats, oil price, headwinds in major emerging economies. But these are challenges which we can meet together, and from which we can create opportunities based on our two centuries of partnership and understanding. We are heirs to that legacy, both our governments and our people, including the 120,000 British nationals who live and work in the UAE and the 1m who visit there annually. Together we will take our partnership from strength to strength.

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David Cameron

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