British Prime Minister David Cameron begins a three-day visit to the Gulf on Monday aimed at selling Typhoon Eurofighter jets and discussing regional security threats, his Downing Street office said.
Cameron will visit the United Arab Emirates on Monday and Saudi Arabia on Tuesday before travelling onwards in the Middle East. His itinerary on the rest of the trip remains undisclosed for security reasons.
Britain is trying to boost its arms sales to oil-rich Gulf states, which are key allies in a region facing instability from the violence in Syria and the crisis over Iran’s nuclear program.
Cameron visited the UAE in 2010 and Saudi Arabia in January 2012.
His office said the latest visit “signals the PM’s commitment to cementing long-term partnerships with two of Britain’s most important strategic allies in the Gulf.”
The British leader will use the trip to push Britain’s defense industry and “specifically promote the Typhoon fast jet to Gulf leaders”, it added.
Cameron will begin the three-day tour by flying straight into a UAE airbase, where he will accompany senior Emirati officials as they inspect RAF Typhoons that are there as part of a training exercise.
The UAE had shown an interest in ordering up to 60 Typhoons to replace their ageing French Mirages, it said.
Saudi Arabia is interested in a second “substantial” order on top of the 72 Typhoons they already have, while Oman is in negotiations for 12 of the jets, the statement said.
The Eurofighter Typhoon is a project which involves British defense giant BAE Systems and companies from Germany, Italy and Spain.
The visit comes a month after Britain’s defense industry -- which is worth £5.4 billion in annual exports and sustains 54,000 jobs -- suffered a blow with the collapse of a mega merger between BAE and European aerospace consortium EADS.
Later on Monday Cameron and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan will attend a business event where British firms including defense giant BAE Systems and aerospace firm Rolls Royce will be on display.
Cameron will also hold talks with the crown prince and the prime minister of the UAE on collaborating over next-generation aerospace equipment, it said.
The British PM returns to London late Wednesday for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Downing Street said Britain, the UAE and Saudi Arabia had a “shared commitment to security and stability and defeating the threats we face in the wider Middle East region.”