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Ready Freddie Go! Today's Brits battling for much more than Bosworth's field

Posted 9 August 2010 · Add Comment

Links between the United Kingdom and the Arab world have a long-standing legacy.

From the time that the early flying boats were crossing from Europe to Asia and the first Avro Anson was piloted by Sir Freddie Bosworth – the man credited with founding Gulf Air, which started the first air taxi service between Bahrain, Saudi and Oman – the British were investing in the infrastructure and equipment needed to develop and aerospace industry.

Now, with second largest aerospace industry in the world, the UK is looking to strengthen its ties with the region.

In June A|D|S, the UK ’s AeroSpace, Defence and Security trade organisation, signed a MoU with the Middle East Aerospace Consortium (MEAC) and the Farnborough Aerospace Consortium (FAC) to further expand its international footprint by establishing a business development and representative presence in the Middle East .

The offices will be in Dubai and Jeddah, with the intention to open two more in Bahrain and Qatar in the next 12 months.

A|D|S, FAC and MEAC have agreed to work together to provide opportunities for A|D|S and FAC members to enter or expand their Middle East operations.

Ian Godden, chairman of A|D|S, and Farnborough International, the organisers of the Farnborough Airshow, said the relationship with the Middle East Business Aviation Conference (MEBAC) and the FAC helped avoid duplication and confusion in the regional marketplace and allowed better access for as many as 3,000 small and medium sized businesses that operate in the aviation and defence sectors in the UK.

The UK uses the Farnborough Airshow to reinforce its credentials and A|D|S is a supporter of the Dubai Air Show. Farnborough International worked as a partner with the Bahrain Civil Aviation Authority to help organise the Bahrain International Air Show earlier this year.

The association’s objective has been to make sure industry was aware of the services and technologies available from British companies.

It opened an office in Toulouse ten years ago to support the UK ’s participation in Airbus projects which, at the prime end, includes making the wings for the A380 and the engines for many of the Airbus fleet.

More recently a representative office opened in Bangalore and one in Japan to support activities in those markets. The organisation has plans for Brazil and China , too, but at the moment the Middle East is top of the agenda,

Increasing activities in the defence sector and, more recently, in the manufacturing or industrial development in places like Al Ain or Dubai , has meant increasing opportunities for the great army of unknown businesses to partner or be part of the development.

In the defence sector, for example, the British have more SMEs than the French, German, Italian and Spanish industries combined, and in the civil sector it employs more than 100,000 people with a strong emphasis on high technology work.

A|D|S is working closely with British Government-backed bodies such as UK Trade & Investment Defence and Security Organisation (UKTI DSO) and is also encouraging inward investment and partnerships from the region.

“There are lots of opportunities in the region, both in areas such as offset projects and in-service provision,” Godden said. “In Abu Dhabi , for example, the investment in creating an aerospace hub in the same way that Singapore did so successfully a few years back, means that there will be demand for the type of businesses that exist in the UK .”

A|D|S| was created earlier this year through the merger of the former Society of British Aerospace Companies (SBAC) with the UK ’s Defence Manufacturers Association and the police and public security suppliers association.

“There is a lot of overlap as we look across security, aerospace and defence,” Godden said.

Major developments in UAV technologies are exciting the UK association and the organisation is pioneering the use of the unmanned systems in a manner that will get public approval. These developments cross the whole spectrum from homeland security through to full defence application.

“By positioning ourselves across the region we hope to demonstrate our commitment to the market,” said Godden. “We will have permanent staff and will work closely with MEBAC and the Farnborough Aerospace Consortium. It is an exciting time.”

Rees Ward, chief executive of A|D|S, said: “The Middle East is a vital area of future growth for the UK companies that we represent and our members are attractive partners for industrial collaboration for companies based in the area. It is crucial for our members, as well as the UK economy, that we boost our presence in this important region.

“We look forward to further expanding our mutually beneficial co-operation with FAC and MEAC that will, in turn, assist our members, representing the cream of UK manufacturing and services, to boost their access to a vital, growing international market.”


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