Middle Eastern cash could be the catalyst for Birmingham’s recovery after a special legal adviser to the King of Abu Dhabi visited the city.
Sheikh Sayed Ali Hashmi, who oversees the legal system in the United Arab Emirates, said Birmingham’s diversity was an attractive prospect for investors in the Middle East.
During a visit to meet key members of the legal and business community, Mr Ali Hashmi said the UAE had trust in UK products and that it was “open for business”.
The UAE is the UK’s 13th largest export market – valued at around £3.6 billion.
Mr Ali Hashmi told the Post: “Birmingham represents globalisation in the right way, especially with the many cultures here.
“A relationship with the UAE, in terms of business and economy is open. Even with the advancement of China and Japan, people still have trust in UK products. It is open to relationships and to business.”
Mr Ali Hashmi said that Midland businesses should have an understanding of traditions and cultures when looking to attract investment.
He said: “The most important thing to know when it comes to religion is the tradition of the people – it is always bound by their religion.
“The English are aware of this – they come always accepting because of their relationship with the Arab world.
“The problem is with the American side – they are not trying to understand the culture and tradition, so they impose things, and therefore they are not successful there.
“Why the Chinese and Japanese are successful is because their products are multi-domestic, not multi-national, it is based on local countries and businesses. Religion is based on trust and understanding.
“General Motors is now releasing many of its employees and many of their products are made in China or Japan. They are not originally American, while in Britain the product is still original – it has the English stamp.”
Mohammad Nazir, chairman of West Midlands Business Forum, said that enhanced relationships could help Birmingham’s recovery.
“At a time of one of the worst recessions this nation has seen since the 1930s, this visit offers unique opportunity to Birmingham and the West Midlands.
“We have an active Muslim business community looking for Islamic finance as well as developments in the technology industry and great real estate investment in Birmingham’s Big Plan.
“We can try to convince His Excellency Sheikh Syed Ali Hashmi to look to our region for investment opportunities from a cash rich region of Abu Dhabi.
“We have a great competitive advantage in attracting FDI from the Middle East to Birmingham for many reasons. Birmingham is home to one of the largest Muslim populations outside of London and Bradford.”
He added: “It is hoped that this visit will commence a great step towards mutual collaboration and participation in commercial activity in months and years to come.”
During the visit Mr Ali Hashmi toured the Birmingham Law Courts and met members of the judiciary.
He said: “It is well known that the judicial affairs in the UK are very stable and an example for our countries.”
Artis Legal partner Noor Siddiqi, who organised the visit and seminar, plans to invite other high-profile visitors from the region to raise awareness of the investment opportunities Birmingham has to offer investors from the Middle East.
He said: “If we understand each others’ traditions and cultures then it is an open door – we can do business together.”