The Gulf — [Mr David Nuttall in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:17 am on 4th May 2016.

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Photo of Paul Scully Paul Scully Conservative, Sutton and Cheam 10:17 am, 4th May 2016

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Nuttall. I congratulate my hon. Friend Charlotte Leslie on securing the debate and on her powerful, thoughtful and eloquent speech, which was fantastic. I refer hon. Members to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. I joined my hon. Friend on her recent trip to the United Arab Emirates. I will not have time to say much about human rights and stability in the region. They are powerful issues that I cannot do justice to in three minutes. I will concentrate on one area: business relationships and our opportunities in countries such as the UAE.

During our recent trip, we visited the Emirates airline, which is headed up by Sir Tim Clark. He is a fantastic British businessman and I wish he were doing fantastic business in the UK. It is amazing to see inspirational business leaders expanding global businesses in places such as the UAE. With his UK links, Sir Tim recently did a deal to buy Rolls-Royce engines for the Emirates fleet. It was one of Rolls-Royce’s biggest deals. Our relationship with global companies around the world can tangibly benefit the UK.

We also went to Jebel Ali, the ninth biggest port in the world. It is owned by an Emirates company, DP World, which, as we have heard, also owns London Gateway. Who is the head of that? It is Simon Moore, another Brit, who has just gone back to Dubai to lead that organisation.

What that showed me was that we can have such entrepreneurship, coupled with the blank canvas that Dubai, Abu Dhabi and these countries have in their modern history, and a central location in the world as well. The Emirates are looking to move from an oil-based economy to a far more diverse economy. Their leading people are educated in the west and then go back, having been upskilled through the talent that they brought to the west. They will take on leading roles, but they will also look for other countries to trade with, for investment in and out of those countries. The UK is very well placed to do that—to offer services.

Bahrain has been mentioned. We have a 200-year relationship with Bahrain, the treaty of friendship having been signed in 1816. Again, that is something that we can capitalise on.

On women’s rights, it was fantastic to hear the example from my hon. Friend Helen Whately, who talked about her experience. Strong female politicians going to these countries and people seeing, for instance, Reem al-Hashimi and Noura al-Kaabi, the fantastic Ministers that the UAE has, and using them as examples of how women in government and in business can have such a positive effect will help to bring change in other countries, such as Saudi Arabia.