The Business Year

Nick Baird

UAE, ABU DHABI - Industry

Back Me Up

former CEO, United Kingdom Trade & Investment (UKTI)

Bio

Nick Baird was CEO of UKTI from September 2011 to December 2013. He was HM Ambassador to Turkey from 2006-2009, leading projects on Turkey’s EU process and regional conflicts. He has also worked on immigration policy at the British Home Office, and as head of the EU Department at the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO).

How would you rate the growth of the UAE’s defense and aerospace industry in recent years given your insights into the business side of the sector? The UAE is a […]

How would you rate the growth of the UAE’s defense and aerospace industry in recent years given your insights into the business side of the sector?

The UAE is a major purchaser of defense and security products and services. It is also committed to diversifying its economy away from a dependence on oil revenues. As a result, it has used offset funding to develop an aerospace hub, as well as precision engineering and munitions facilities. The UAE is now a manufacturer of both composite and precision-engineered metal parts for Boeing and Airbus airframes.

How has long-term security cooperation between the UAE and the UK influenced the development of the UAE’s own capability to produce defense technology?

I think the biggest driver for the UAE is its desire to increase capacity and capability amongst the Emirati population. Security cooperation has inevitably contributed to this via knowledge transfer and joint ventures, but profitability and Emiratization are the biggest drivers.

Why should the UAE buy British when it comes to this sector?

The UK punches above its weight when it comes to aerospace, advanced engineering, and manufacturing. The Airbus A380 is iconic. The Eurofighter Typhoon is quite simply the best aircraft of its type. When you couple this with the niche technologies developed by both large companies and SMEs, it is no surprise that the UK is second only to the US when it comes to defense sales.

“The UAE is now a manufacturer of both composite and precision-engineered metal parts for Boeing and Airbus airframes. “

Where do you see the best opportunities for further technical collaboration between UAE and British companies, especially in the aerospace sector?

UK companies are global leaders in aerospace research. For example, Bombardier’s C-Series aircraft has been designed to reduce fuel consumption. The UAE is seeking to grow an aerospace industry and has achieved an enormous amount in a short time. Collaboration would allow UAE companies to invest alongside their UK counterparts in order to develop the next generation of aerospace technologies.

The UAE recently opened a diplomatic mission to NATO; the first Arab country to do so. What potential does this provide for closer commercial ties when it comes to defense cooperation?

The UAE military already engages in joint exercises with NATO members, including the UK. Exposure to UK expertise, products, and services could lead to commercial opportunities, and would only serve to enhance our bilateral relationship.

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