Looking at a potential UK trading relationship with the Middle East

Dec 13, 2017 · Guest post for from Richie Santosdiaz, London-based economic development expert

Dubai

Guest post for OpentoExpert from Richie Santosdiaz, London-based economic development expert.

In a post-Brexit world, there is a definite prospect of a stronger economic partnership between the UK and the Middle East. Theresa May’s visit to the region to solidify the UK and Saudi Arabia’s historical and current relationship shows this. Certainly there are plenty of opportunities and demand for UK companies looking to export to the Middle East.

There is plenty that could be done to facilitate more trade with the region, including discussing future free trade agreements. At the same time, much will need to be done to change perceptions of trade with the region, with the media’s current focus being on the controversial arms trade the UK does in the region.

With this all in mind, why should the UK look export to the Middle East?

Why should UK companies export to the Middle East?

A population of almost 400 million people is a good start.

Secondly, the region has a long historical relationship with the British. In fact, the British might have actually created the term "the Middle East" in the 1850s, though it was later widely popularised by American naval strategist Alfred Thayer Mahan in the 1900s.

Much of the region was under the administration of the colonial British for a long time too. Although Britain’s impact on the region has been negative and damaging in many ways, there are nonetheless ties and bonds that still pertain today.

Finally, the region – in particular the Gulf countries such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – is home to sizable expatriate communities of various nationalities including Brits and Americans. There are 250,000 Brits living in the UAE alone.

The region has also received significant British investment. From finance to food to professional services and logistics, British expertise can be felt in the region with branch and regional offices scattered throughout the Middle East. You can walk around in cities like Dubai and see recognizable an abundance of British brands such as Waitrose, HSBC and Costa Coffee.

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