A high-level Manchester delegation is travelling to Abu Dhabi as part of a drive to attract investment from the region and build cultural, academic and sporting links.
The delegation consists of civic, business and higher education leaders from bodies including Manchester City Council, Marketing Manchester, Manchester Investment and Development Agency Service (MIDAS), the University of Manchester, Manchester Airport, Manchester International Festival and a range of private sector representatives.
They will take part in a series of meetings with key figures from Abu Dhabi during the four-day visit.
Among the headline events is a Manchester Reception hosted at the British Ambassador’s residence on Tuesday 10 November. The event will be attended by 120 leading figures from the region’s business, sports, cultural and educational sectors.
Around 80 senior guests from Manchester and Abu Dhabi’s business communities will be at a Manchester Business Reception, designed to raise awareness of the developing relationship between Manchester and Abu Dhabi, on Wednesday 11 November. Companies which already have a presence in both Manchester and Abu Dhabi include Arup, Building Design Partnership, AEDAS Architects, Royal and Sun Alliance and Royal Bank of Scotland.
The trip is timed to capitalise on the attention focused on Manchester by Manchester City FC’s visit to Abu Dhabi for a friendly match with the UAE national team on Thursday 12 November. Senior representatives from the Club will be joining the delegation to promote Manchester and local businesses in Abu Dhabi and stress the importance of strengthening ties between the two cities.
Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese, who is representing the Council along with chief executive Sir Howard Bernstein, said: “The links between our two great cities have never been closer.
“It is clear that this has come about because of the commitment that Manchester City’s new owners have shown towards not just the club but also the city. And with direct flights every day between Manchester and Abu Dhabi, there’s never been a better time for businesses in both cities to work together.
“I am pleased that we will be in Abu Dhabi at the same time as Manchester City as it gives us the chance to cement our partnership and look at how we can help each other in our aims to continue to build both a world-class club and a world-class city.
“This trip will also demonstrate to others seeking to invest in the UK why Manchester is the ideal choice.”
MIDAS, Manchester’s Investment and Development Agency, Chief Executive Colin Sinclair said: “Manchester business already has strong links with Abu Dhabi and both this visit and our continued commitment to developing the special relationship between the two cities will, we believe, drive future investment into Manchester City Region bringing with it jobs and prosperity for the regional economy.”
Andrew Stokes, chief executive of Marketing Manchester, the agency charged with promoting the city on a national and international stage, said: “Abu Dhabi is becoming an increasingly important strategic partner of the city and, as such, it is vital to strengthen the relationships that have developed in recent months. The United Arab Emirates has already shown it shares the same ambition for Manchester as we do and it is important for us to do everything we can to facilitate additional business opportunities that will benefit the city.”
Prof Rod Coombs, Vice-President for Innovation and Economic Development, said: “The Higher Education Sector is becoming increasingly dependent on international collaboration between universities in order to develop both education and research. The University of Manchester is keen to develop collaboration with universities in the United Arab Emirates, where the growth in higher education mirrors the dramatic economic development in the region.”
Alex Poots, Director of Manchester International Festival (MIF), said: “The Festival started building partnerships with Abu Dhabi for MIF 2009. Earlier this year and with the support of the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation, we staged an Arabic story-telling event in Zaha Hadid’s bespoke structure in Manchester Art Gallery. I’m looking forward to meeting our colleagues in Abu Dhabi to discuss how we can further develop our cultural partnership.”