UK's new-look Foreign Office will be a 'force for good', says British Ambassador

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - The British Ambassador to the UAE said a Foreign Office revamp will serve to strengthen the country's relationship with the Middle East and be a "force for good".

Patrick Moody believes the merger of the UK's Department for International Development with its Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) will help bring together a wealth of expertise.

The new Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), announced in June by the British government, was officially established on Wednesday.

The move has come in for criticism that any reduction in international aid could harm countries in need, while on Wednesday The Times reported that some foreign aid would be diverted to upgrade Britain's intelligence and defence capabilities.

“This is not about giving things up, we are absolutely still committed to providing humanitarian relief and being just as much involved in wider prosperity and political relationships with countries in the region,” said Mr Moody.

The focus is not on cuts, it’s about delivering better impact

Patrick Moody, UK Ambassador to UAE

“This is good news for everybody and another demonstration of the UK’s wish to be out there acting as a force for good.

“It brings together two spectacularly effective ways we already do that through our diplomatic network and our development expertise.”

The envoy said the UK’s commitment to provide 0.7 per cent of its gross national income to UN developmental aid was enshrined in law, something that had not changed despite the merger between departments.

The UK has announced a number of relief packages to help nations in the Middle East region in recent months.

More than Dh170 million was pledged to help battle the impact of Covid-19 in May by the UK.

An aid package of more than Dh118 million was sent to help people in Syria while just under Dh55 million was given to support the people of Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine.

Earlier in the year, the UK also announced a programme to help rebuild hospitals, schools and other vital infrastructures in Iraq.

“This is a wider strategic decision about how best to deliver our diplomacy,” said Mr Moody.

“It isn’t about cuts or changes, in time we will mature and develop our policy, but the focus is not on cuts it’s about delivering better impact."

He said there were many different ways the UK offers support to countries in the region.

“Not all the countries that are in the GCC need development aid, the UAE certainly doesn’t need it but we work closely together,” he said.

“Many countries are partners with us to improve not just the region but the global situation.”

He said the UK’s commitment to the region went beyond that of simply offering help and support in times of crisis.

“Our engagement with this region isn’t just about providing help and support, it’s about working together on global agendas,” he said.

“We will continue what is already a great engagement.

“This will allow us to build on the fantastic dialogue between the two countries on a global agenda and have even more impact.”

He pointed to a number of projects in which the UAE and UK had worked together on, including a global vaccine initiative and offering support to countries hit hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“There will be continuous dialogue, that’s how it all comes together, changes in Sudan were brought together through political dialogue with partners like the UAE,” he said.

“The key point is we want to be a force for a good, from a UAE perspective it’s the same agenda both in the region and more widely.”

A celebration of UK-UAE ties

Photographs in Dialogue at the Etihad Museum documents the diplomatic relationship between the UK and the UAE, from the 1960s and '70s to the foundation of the country in 1971. One section features pictures of Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Rashid with British Prime Minster Harold Wilson in 1969. Chris Whiteoak / The National

UAE and UK leaders surrounded by other rulers and the media as they sign the Treaty of Friendship. National Portrait Gallery via Media Office

Shot by Rex Coleman for the official photograph studio of the British royal family, this image was taken during Sheikh Rashid's visit to London in 1961. Courtesy Etihad Museum

British colonial administrator Sir Geoffrey Archer, pictured with Sheikh Zayed, signs the Treaty of Friendship with the UAE, recognising the Emirates as 'a sovereign and independent state'. National Portrait Gallery via Dubai Media Office

Queen Elizabeth II sits with Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Rashid, as well as rulers of the other emirates. During this visit, she toured various cultural sites across the country, including Al Ain, Dubai Creek and the World Trade Centre. Chris Whiteoak / The National

In one section of the exhibition, a number of portraits detail the political representatives from the UK who lived in the UAE throughout the 1950s and '60s, working as explorers, oil tycoons and mediators between local rulers and the British government. Chris Whiteoak / The National

A photograph album containing photographs of the UAE taken by Colonel Edward Wilson, on view at Etihad Museum. Chris Whiteoak / The National

The exhibition features portraits of Sheikh Zayed, Sheikh Rashid and Queen Elizabeth II presented as a comparative study of portraiture styles and depictions of power. Chris Whiteoak / The National

A rare set of images of Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, photographed by Rex Coleman in 1961. Chris Whiteoak / The National

A section of the exhibition shows photographs of the UAE’s development presented through an interactive screen display. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Updated: September 2, 2020 12:40 PM

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