I was Boris Johnson’s head of Middle Eastern investment. These are the mistakes he’s making over the region

The flow of oil between the United Kingdom and the Middle East will never be two-way, but the transfer of knowledge can be

Omar Hassan

5th February 2020

The Independent

Abu Dhabi

There is much debate about whether the UK’s economy can survive and thrive after Brexit, particularly since there is still no visibility about what the UK’s trading arrangements will be with the European Union after it leaves. In my role as head of inward Middle Eastern investment during his tenure as mayor, I saw how effective Boris Johnson was at attracting foreign investment to London. I hope he has the same focus as prime minister — particularly with regard to the Middle East.

I also hope that he can develop two-way traffic where British investors can fuel the next generation of Middle Eastern entrepreneurs, many of whom would be literally turning offers of investment away if they were fortunate enough to be based in London or San Francisco.

This may seem counter intuitive at a time when many are cautious about doing business with and in a region that, as the Iran Deal unravels, can seem to be on the edge of a precipice. But I believe that new UK-Middle East business links are not only desirable but essential – for both us and the region. As well as the well-trodden business hubs, this should also include the places, and the relationships, that have perhaps remained unexplored. In an ideal world, that would even include Iran – a country’s whose entrepreneurs have much to offer the world and whom are, despite being at the heart of the silk roads that created global trade, are cut off from so much of it by sanctions.

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