The Gulf — [Mr David Nuttall in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:21 am on 4th May 2016.

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Photo of Flick Drummond Flick Drummond Conservative, Portsmouth South 10:21 am, 4th May 2016

Absolutely. There are 120,000 British people living in the UAE, compared with just 50,000 Americans. We are the most important country to the UAE, and that must be continued.

Some Emiratis were educated at the same school as me, the English Speaking School in Dubai, and many were taught by my headmistress, Miss Dorothy Miles, who spent all of her working life teaching generations of Arab and foreign children in Dubai and Sharjah.

It is the case that 70% of university graduates are women, and women are encouraged to build a career and to continue it even when they have children. The Speaker of the UAE Parliament is a woman. Women sit side by side with men in their chamber; there is no segregation. Women are quickly moving to the top of the professions there.

Some people are concerned about human rights, and we looked into that when we were in the UAE. I am a believer that it is better to work closely with countries that are developing than to ignore them, and I was pleased to hear UAE Ministers appreciating that work is being done in this area and will continue. We heard about a domestic abuse charity set up by a female MP and work being done elsewhere. We met Tristan Forster, who runs FSI Worldwide to ensure that workers are not exploited. We were allowed to challenge Ministers on these points, and they are well aware of our views.

Only by continuing this close relationship can we challenge our friends and not avoid the difficult questions. Our ambassador, Philip Parham, is working hard to build the relationship, and I hope we continue to build on a friendship that has been part of our joint history for many years.