MEMBERS of a royal family in the United Arab Emirates made a special visit to a Muslim college in Warwickshire as part of a bid to beef up British meat exports.
They met with the Halal Steering Group at Hijaz College Islamic University, in Nuneaton, to discuss ways of boosting halal meat exports to the Middle East.
The steering group was set up by Eblex, a levy board based in Stoneleigh, to encourage trading of UK lamb and beef.
As part of the visit, the Al Mualla ruling family of Umm Al Qaiwain and UAE trade representatives, discussed certification of the meat to ensure halal principles on the slaughter line is compliant with UAE standards.
It came about after Eblex director, Nick Allen, attended a trading exhibition in Dubai which sparked huge interest.
Speaking about the outcome of the royal visit, Nick said: “They wanted to take a look at our different certification schemes and find one which best suits the needs of the Middle East.
“We’re hoping to hear back from them in the next few weeks. They might make a few adjustments to the scheme they’ve chosen but the overall impression we got was that they were happy with the scheme.
“We’ve begun to work with members of Hijaz College which is a fairly new relationship and they’ve provided us with a network of contacts in the UAE and advised us on potential markets out there.
“Exports of lamb and beef are highly important to us – a third of our lamb is exported and it’s critical to allow farmers to get a decent price.
“We’ve realised the halal sector is quite important to us and we’re now looking at exports abroad which we haven’t done before.”
The move to drum up interest in the Middle East comes after the UAE lifted a ban on British meat exports following outbreaks of the foot and mouth disease which had a huge impact on the country’s economy.
Nick added: “For the first time in 10 years we’re looking to make a sustainable profit.
“It will make the whole industry thrive and it’s really good for the economy.”
Noor Siddiqi, director of law firm Artis Legal, helped organise the royal visit to Hijaz College.
He said: “This is really an exciting time for regional companies to forge valuable links with businesses out in the UAE for the mutual benefit of both. “The visit of this high level delegation from the UAE is yet another example how the Middle East feels confident with the expertise in this region.”