On 30th October 2018, the Arab British Chamber of Commerce was pleased to host His Excellency Mr Ibrahim F Mohieldeen, Ambassador for the League of Arab States in London.
The occasion was an ambassadorial roundtable which provided an opportunity for UK businesses to hear the Arab League’s perspective on the enormous untapped potential for strengthening cooperation between the UK and the Arab World. The discussion, chaired by Baroness Symons, Chairman of the ABCC, gathered together business executives from a broad range of industries such as financial services, law, higher education, tax advisory, policy research, export promotion and transport.
Mr Mohieldeen began his presentation by commending the good work of the ABCC since it was founded in the 1970s empowered with a mandate to promote Arab-British trade, noting that the celebration of its 40th anniversary took place last year.
Turning to the present, Mr Mohieldeen stated that a lot of activities were happening to deepen bilateral ties reflected in frequent trade missions and cooperation across a range of sectors such as trade, education and common security policies.
The Arab League ambassador pointed out that the Arab market consisted of a population of 400 million people and many commercial opportunities were awaiting to be tapped.
There was great scope to expand relations, especially following Brexit when the UK would be able to enter into discussions with the Arab League on developing closer cooperation.
Mr Mohieldeen’s main discussion topic was climate change and the emerging opportunities for private sector investment in areas like the green economy, food security, water resource management and sustainable energy.
He noted the historic shift in energy policies within the Arab countries away from fossil fuels towards the adoption of sustainable policies based on renewables. This was creating more opportunities for the private sector to invest.
With regards to water resources, great advances had been made in improving public access to safe drinking water, but shortages were exacerbated by rising populations. New strategies were needed to improve access and reduce wastage. Similar challenges existed with food security which meant that improving local agricultural production was a priority for the region.
In conclusion, Mr Mohieldeen welcomed closer collaboration with the UK private sector across all areas. Financial incentives and improved regulations were being developed to promote private investment and partnerships to develop common responses to these challenges.
Baroness Symons warmly thanked Mr Mohieldeen for an excellent and thoughtful presentation.
Mr Abdeslam El-Idrissi, Acting General Manager and Director of Trade Services, ABCC, then briefly gave details of the initiatives that the Chamber was planning in the coming year, mentioning as a highlight, the Arab British Economic Summit scheduled to take place in July 2019. Mr El-Idrissi remarked that H E Mr Mohieldeen had raised many topical issues that would help guide the agenda of the summit.
The presentation stimulated a wide ranging discussion during which numerous topics were raised that opened up areas for future fruitful cooperation, such as closer working with NGOs, the Arab community in the UK, cultural awareness and collaboration between universities to develop local expertise and centres of research. The roundtable succeeded in identifying various areas with real potential for productive Arab-British cooperation.