Britain and the United Arab Emirates announced on Tuesday they have agreed a defence deal which will see boosting of the British military presence in the Gulf state. The announcement came at the end of a two-day state visit by British Prime Minister David Cameron.
The two allies said in a joint statement that they would “work together to deepen their defence ties” for the “security of the UAE and wider Gulf region”.
There was also an agreement to “establish an industrial defence partnership that involves close collaboration around Typhoon (fighter jets) and a number of new technologies,” it added.
Both sides also agreed to increase joint military and training exercises and invest “in the British military presence in the UAE.” The statement did not give any further details.
The UAE’s official news agency WAM reported that British Prime Minister David Cameron held talks with President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan in which they discussed ways of boosting economic ties, with special emphasis on the defence industry.
Downing Street said the prime minister was to accompany senior Emirati officials on an inspection of RAF Typhoons stationed at a UAE airbase as part of a training exercise.
London says the UAE is very interested in ordering up to 60 Typhoon Eurofighters to replace its ageing French Mirages.
The British Prime Minister has come under intense fire at home for pushing forward his country’s defence industry. However, Cameron defended doing military deals with Gulf states.
“(The UAE) stood with us and fought with us in the Libya campaign to help bring freedom to that country from the tyranny of Colonel (Muammer) Gaddafi,” he told the BBC.
“Every country in the world in my view has a right to self defence. But you cannot expect every country in the world to produce every tank, every ship, every plane that is necessary for that self-defence.”
“I make absolutely no apologies for the fact that I am here talking to our friends in the Emirates, our friends in Saudi Arabia about defence partnerships because their security is important for our security, and this is vital for British jobs.”
British Prime Minister also discussed potential future deals with Masdar, which contributed almost $800 million to the giant 175-turbine $2.72 billion London Array wind farm off the coast of Essex and Kent which came on stream last month and is due to power 47,000 homes in the UK.
Cameron also had discussions with the Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (TAQA) about a tax break announced by Chancellor George Osborne to encourage firms to seek to exploit older and deeper oil fields using new techniques.
Emphasising the importance of renewable energy, Cameron told students at a question and answer session in Abu Dhabi that countries must do more to provide cleaner electricity in order to meet rising demand amid a shift from petrol vehicles to electric ones.
“If we want to meet targets for reducing carbon emissions we have to recognise that we must try to meet all of that demand either from nuclear or renewable sources or, where necessary, gas though we should be looking at carbon capture and storage projects” he said. “We mustn’t see this as only a cost and an obligation; we should see it as an opportunity.”
The British PM travelled to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday evening. Downing Street has refused to give any details of the Prime Minister’s itinerary for security reasons.