The UAE-UK Business Council held its 17th Plenary Meeting on 28th July 2020.

The United Arab Emirates – United Kingdom Business Council, at its 17th Plenary Meeting on 28th July 2020, formally appointed Sir Edward Lister, the British Prime Minister's Chief Strategic Advisor, as its UK Co-Chair.  He takes over as Co-Chair from Mr Samir Brikho, former CEO of AMEC Foster Wheeler.

The appointment comes as the Council, which was set up in 2011 as a non-profit association to develop business relations and increase trade between the UAE and the U.K., broadens its mandate to support growing areas of bilateral opportunity. 

Innovation, education and professional development, healthcare and life sciences, green energy and industry, have been identified as priorities for the Business Council. This align closely to the priorities of the UAE and UK Governments.

Both the UAE and UK are supporting the development of these sectors as economic engines that will deliver significant skilled employment and international trade opportunities. 

Sir Edward Lister will serve alongside UAE Co-Chair, His Excellency Ahmed Al Sayegh, Minister of State to the UAE Cabinet and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Global Markets, the city's international finance centre.

The immediate priority for the Co-Chairs is to support the Council’s working groups, broaden the membership base, and facilitate ease of bilateral trade, especially for SMEs. 

Sir Edward Lister commented: 

"Greater investment, collaboration, and knowledge-sharing between the UK and the UAE can only benefit both our economies in the long term.

"I am honoured to serve as Co-Chair of the UAE–UK Business Council, where I will work on behalf of our members to enhance and grow the bilateral trading relationship between our two countries."

Ahmed Al Sayegh commented: 

"We are privileged to have Sir Edward Lister's involvement as we develop the Council to expand our future-focused bilateral trade relationship.

"Sir Edward brings a wealth of experience across the industry sectors where there is a clear opportunity to establish new areas of collaboration and investment. 

"Our priority as Co-Chairs is to establish platforms for a broader range of companies to participate in the UAE – UK trade relationship. 

"On behalf of the members, I would like to sincerely thank Samir Brikho for his leadership and commitment as former UK Co-Chair, which has helped position our Business Council for the next phase of its evolution."

The UAE is the UK's 19th-largest trading partner with bilateral trade standing at £18.4m at the end of 2019 (provisional figures). 




The UAE-UK Business Council first met in September 2011. It is a small, high-level body that aims to increase trade between the UAE and the UK.  It meets twice a year, alternating between the UAE and the UK.

In 2009, bilateral trade stood at £7.5 billion. The original objective for the Business Council was to boost bilateral trade to £12 billion by 2015.  This was achieved by 2014. At the end of 2019, bilateral trade stood at £18.4 billion (provisional).

Membership of the Business Council is by invitation only and is focused at CEO or Executive Board equivalent level. There are usually 20 UK members and a similar number of UAE members. Current members include: ADNOC, BAE Systems, Barclays, BP, Emirates, Etihad, Mubadala, Musanada, Rolls-Royce and Shell.


The role of the Business Council is to:

  • Identify and recommend actions to progressively remove impediments to greater trade, investment and commercial links between the two countries;
  • Act as a catalyst for greater interest and linkages between the two countries’ commercial sectors from small and medium sized enterprises to multinationals;
  • Propose innovative fields of collaboration that would benefit both countries economically and commercially and strengthen the partnership internationally; and
  • Provide strategic advice to the two Governments as appropriate.



Sir Edward is recognised for his leadership in both the public and private sectors.  He has held the role of Chief Strategic Advisor to the Prime Minister since August 2019.  As part of this role, he has had substantial engagement with the UAE with a view to progressing our bilateral trade and investment agenda. 

Prior to his current role, Sir Edward was Chairman of Homes England.  He also served as a Non-Executive Director at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Chief of Staff and Deputy Mayor for Policy and Planning at the Greater London Authority, Director of Localis and Leader of Wandsworth Council.



H.E. Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh was appointed as Minister of State to the United Arab Emirates Cabinet in September 2018. He is also the Chairman of Abu Dhabi Global Market. With three decades of international experience and business leadership, H.E Al Sayegh supports the government actively in initiatives and efforts that drive the nation’s economic diversification plans and the sustainable future of the UAE.  

H.E. Al Sayegh has also served in several key capacities, including as the former founding Chairman of Aldar Properties, founding Chairman of Masdar, Deputy Chairman of First Gulf Bank, and senior positions in the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company and the Abu Dhabi Investment Company.


Contact Details: Rachel Elks

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