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April 2023 Newsletter

The Emirates Society’s

Latest News and Events

Spring has arrived and The Emirates Society enjoyed two stellar events this month - a sumptuous dinner hosted by Coutts, and a very elegant brunch and private viewing of a significant collection of Islamic Art at Sotheby’s.

One of the highlights of this month was meeting the new British Ambassador to the UAE, Edward Hobart, who arrived in Abu Dhabi only days ago. Ed joined our members at the Coutts dinner before his imminent departure and spoke about his excitement to take up his new role. Having served previously as the British Consul General in Dubai, Ed is very fond of the UAE and he looks forward to continuing to foster the deep friendship between the two countries.

Time to toot our own horn! The Emirates Society membership increased by a remarkable 40% since last year and we have launched our new corporate partners programme which is already attracting top companies, such as Emirates airlines. If you have someone you would like to introduce to The Emirates Society, do not hesitate to email Laura Roberts, Executive Director at

60 Seconds with… Jeremy Williams OBE

Jeremy Williams’ experience of Gulf Arabs and Arab business practice spans some 40 years. He was the Defence, Naval, Military and Air Attaché in the British Embassies of Abu Dhabi and Bahrain to three ambassadors at the times of both the Iran/Iraq (the Tanker) war and the Gulf (Kuwait) War. In an Army and diplomatic career of 35 years he lived for eleven years in five Gulf locations: Sharjah, Dubai, Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain.

Jeremy is a longstanding member of The Emirates Society and the 4th edition of his book will be published in just a few weeks: ‘Don’t They Know It’s Friday’. for more information.

What advice would you give to someone moving to the UAE?

Visit the UAE ahead of your move and speak to expatriates about life in the Emirate to which you are to move. Be patient. Don't even think of going to the Gulf if you are impatient! Learn the structure of the UAE society, and its organisations, which often means that gaining access to the centre of power can be the key to success. Decentralisation is not the normal way of life throughout the Gulf. Never be condescending. Learn something of Islam and to say salaam alaykum (peace be upon you).

What is your most memorable experience in the UAE?

When I was the British Defence Attaché in Abu Dhabi, I enjoyed dune buggying on the private island with Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is now the President of the UAE.

Where is the best place you have visited in the UAE?

Wadi Hutta in the UAE enclave on the east coast of the peninsular, and driving to the top of Jebal Hafeet, east of Abu Dhabi.

Best way to spend a weekend in the UAE?

Camping in the desert with friends (never ever go alone).

Biggest cultural misunderstanding in the UAE?

Do not regard 'The Arabs' as one entity. There are many differences between the 22 Arab nations, even their cities. In the UAE there are differences even between Sharjah, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi.

April Events

The Emirates Society Spring Members Dinner at Coutts The Rt Hon David Jones MP, Chair of The Emirates Society, welcomed members who enjoyed a very special evening at the Spring Members Dinner in the private dining room of Coutts on the Strand. Sir Simon Mayall delivered an insightful talk in which he shared with members many anecdotes of his time in the UAE and the Middle East. Coutts generously gave each member a copy of Sir Simon’s book, Soldier in the Sand: A Personal History of the Modern Middle East which is available to purchase directly from Sir Simon who will autograph each copy. Please contact for more details.

The newly appointed British Ambassador to the UAE, Edward Hobart CMG, attended the dinner and found himself in good company, surrounded by three former ambassadors, parliamentarians, academics, and captains of industry who were only too happy to wish him well. We were pleased that Lord Walney and Rushanara Ali MP showed their keen interest in the UAE-UK relationship following their recent parliamentary delegation visit, and a recent new member of the UAE APPG, the Rt Hon Shailesh Vara MP was also able to join us.

The elegant meeting room with 18th century listed Chinese wallpaper given to the British Ambassador, and the private dining room provided a stunning setting for the delicious meal prepared by Coutts in-house Michelin star chef and the conversation flowed throughout the evening. We extend our sincere thanks to Coutts for graciously hosting our members and we are already looking forward to our Autumn Members Dinner on 25th October at the RAF Club.

Sotheby’s Brunch and Private Viewing of the Al Zayani Collection

The Emirates Society members enjoyed an elegant Sunday morning private viewing of a significant collection of Islamic art, the Al Zayani Collection, at Sotheby’s prior to auction. Sotheby’s team of fine art consultants were on hand to explain the importance of key pieces, including a stunning photograph by Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum. The artists in the collection represented the best in Arab contemporary and highly acclaimed art.

The UAE in the News

Spacewalk by Emirati Astronaut Emirati astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi has made history this month, becoming the first Arab to perform a spacewalk. The daunting excursion was undertaken with NASA’s Stephen Bowen and the pair performed a range of maintenance tasks on the station. The mission makes the UAE the first non-partner country of the ISS to have an astronaut outside of the station. Article from The National.

Passover in Dubai For the first time in the UAE’s history, a purpose built synagogue on Saadiyat Island hosted an eight-day Passover festival, whilst the Christian community celebrated Easter and Muslims fasted for Ramadan. Greetings of Chag Sameach, Ramadan Kareem and Happy Easter were heard across the UAE, highlighting the country’s commitment to religious tolerance and coexistence. Article from The National.

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