The Gulf — [Mr David Nuttall in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:25 am on 4th May 2016.

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Photo of Phillip Lee Phillip Lee Conservative, Bracknell 10:25 am, 4th May 2016

I thank my hon. Friend for her intervention. More broadly than the UAE, across the whole region, the youth of the region is part of its challenge, but also part of the opportunity for the future.

I welcome the Government’s broad, deep and integrated approach—addressing what underpins long-term security, such as education, economic resilience and good governance, as well as increasing co-operation to address immediate threats from terrorism, organised crime and the like.

I want to mention three specific issues. First, tensions with Iran are at an ever increasing risk of boiling over following the nuclear deal. If in the long term the west is to get rid of the responsibility of helping to keep the peace in the Gulf—a responsibility that it would have little appetite to fulfil if tested—we must help the region to develop its own infrastructure for resolving such tensions.

Secondly, the Gulf states face extraordinary demographic challenges from growing youth populations at the same time as economic means are being slashed. We must gear our engagement to support economic diversification and entrepreneurship to grow and then sustain jobs for young people, and to engage in new ways via digital and social media. There are myriad opportunities in cyber, in space and at the forefront of science, technology and innovation that could enable them to leapfrog stages of development. If they are successful at doing that, we will all benefit.

The third issue is resource resilience and, in particular, access to water in a region that already faces the biggest water deficits in the world and increasing demand. The Gulf states’ existence is already a triumph of vision and wealth over the laws of nature. Human survival in that climate is a tribute to the miracles of air conditioning and desalination.

Finally, I am convinced—