Cameron embarks on three-day tour of the Middle East
David Cameron has begun his three-day tour of the Middle East, starting in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that will also include Oman and Saudi Arabia.
Accompanied by a selection of British businesses, it is hoped new commercial deals will be signed with the Arab states worth £6 billion.
The hope is not only to boost Britain’s trade but also to increase arms deals and build a deeper defence strategy with the region.
Cameron has come under increased criticism from human rights groups for seeking business with “oppressive regimes”.
Amnesty International have proclaimed these new commercial deals as a “deeply disturbing trade off” of commercial interests over human rights. However, the Prime Minister has insisted that there will not be any no-go areas, and that human rights issues will be discussed.
A recent MPs committee questioned the usage of weapons in both Oman and Yemen. While a parliamentary inquiry accused the Saudi Arabian monarchy of supporting human rights abuses, Cameron has insisted that all defence sales were “legitimate and right”.
These business deals could not be coming at a better time for the British defence company BAE Systems, which has seen its share price drop by 3.4% since the collapse of its merger with its European counterpart EADS last month.
BAE is hoping these deals will help clarify its business strategy and bolster shareholder support for the short term.
Cameron’s trip is not purely business related as he seeks to garner support for defence against a nuclear Iran. He speculated on Monday that Britain could support the region by permanently deploying RAF jets in the UAE, in order to counter any potential threat from Tehran.