UK's Prince William to visit UAE next month

Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, delivers a speech at the Tusk Conservation Awards in London, Britain, Nov 22, 2021. Reuters
Queen Elizabeth's grandson Prince William will visit the United Arab Emirates next month, his office Kensington Palace announced on Friday, as Britain seeks to step up its relationship with the Gulf state.

William, the Duke of Cambridge, will visit Dubai on Feb 10, with his trip coming as the UAE marks its 50th year and coinciding with UK National Day being held at Expo 2020 Dubai, his office said.

"The bond between the UK and the UAE is deep and strong and Prince William's visit will highlight and build upon these links as he has the opportunity to engage with young Emiratis, leaders from government and committed conservationists," Kensington Palace said in a statement.

Britain has been looking to the Gulf countries for trade deals as part of its post-Brexit strategy to build new ties around the world.

In September, the oil-rich Gulf state pledged to invest 10 billion pounds ($13.6 billion) in British clean energy, infrastructure, technology and life sciences, expanding its "sovereign investment partnership" with the UK government.

However, there has been criticism from opposition lawmakers and campaigners that the British government has prioritised business deals over human rights concerns.

It also comes after a senior judge at the High Court in London ruled last year that Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, had ordered the hacking of the phones of his ex-wife, Princess Haya of Jordan, and her lawyers, including a British lawmaker.

That followed an earlier ruling by the judge that Mohammed had carried out a campaign of threats and intimidation against Haya that made her fear for her life, and that he had also previously abducted and mistreated two of his daughters by another marriage.

Kensington Palace said William, who has increasingly carried out important royal foreign visits - such as to Israel in 2018 - would use his trip to showcase his environmental award "The Earthshot Prize" and highlight the United for Wildlife campaign which seeks to counter the illegal trade in wildlife.