At the request of the British Government Their Royal Highnesses will be visiting Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain from 5-11 November to strengthen the United Kingdom’s warm bilateral relations with these countries. This year also marks the 200th anniversary of the establishment of formal relations between the U.K. and Bahrain.
It is worth noting that in 2014 The Prince did visit Bahrain and the UAE, and the UAE again in 2015, but in all cases only for a few hours. Their Royal Highnesses' last substantial and joint tour of Bahrain and the U.A.E. was in 2007. Their last visit to Oman was in 2013.
Their Royal Highnesses will have over 50 engagements in seven days. The visit will promote our partnership in the region in key areas such as religious tolerance, supporting women in leadership, creating youth opportunities, military cooperation, preserving cultural heritage and wildlife conservation.
The programme has been designed by the FCO, the U.K Embassies in each country (who have liaised with the host Governments) and Clarence House to make the most of the depth of The Prince and The Duchess' knowledge and expertise in particular areas.
I will talk you through some of the highlights of their programme.
In Oman it will begin with a celebration of traditional music and dance in front of the newly opened, and very beautiful, National Museum. The Museum is a repository of an invaluable collection of artefacts and contemporary items from across the Sultanate, reflecting every era of its history. The Victoria and Albert Museum and the Tate Gallery have both been involved in its development. His Royal Highness will tour the Museum while Her Royal Highness visits the Oman Cancer Association's hostel for the families of cancer patients being treated in Muscat who come from outlying districts of the Sultanate. His Royal Highness will also visit a wildlife sanctuary with programmes to protect indigenous mammals. He will meet the rangers who are all members of the local community and, I'm sure, sample the acacia honey for which the area is famous. His Royal Highness will attend a reception for Young Leaders and Her Royal Highness an event for women in leadership positions.
From Oman Their Royal Highnesses will travel to Abu Dhabi in the UAE on 6 November. They will attend a reception at the Sheikh Zayed Mosque at which the leaders of different faith groups will be guests, and hear of the UAE's new programme promoting religious tolerance. His Royal Highness will visit Bu Tinah island, the centre of an important UNESCO marine reserve where we hope he will see endangered species of turtle and dugong (sea cows) as well as some of the rich variety of migratory birds likely to be passing through. He will go to the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, of which he is the Patron. The Institute is part of Masdar City, the planned, sustainable development in Abu Dhabi that will rely on renewable energy sources. The Institute's research focusses on energy, sustainability, and the environment. His Royal Highness will participate in a 'Youth Circle' as part of the UAE's Youth Agenda. This will bring together young leaders to discuss how the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates have a common goal of engaging and empowering young people.
Her Royal Highness will visit the Imperial College London Diabetes Hospital, attend a tea with a theme of empowering women and go to a hospital for falcons.
Both Their Royal Highnesses will attend the launch of the UK/UAE Year of Culture 2017 in the recently restored Al Jahili Fort in al Ain. They will hear a performance by young Emirati musicians who are taking part in a British Council programme and see an exhibition about the ancient Qur'anic leaves that are part of Birmingham University's collection and which were only identified in 2015.
Their Royal Highnesses will spend 8 November in Dubai and Sharjah. They will visit the International Humanitarian City. This was established by the Government of Dubai. It is a massive storage and distribution centre for supplies that can be used in the event of a humanitarian crisis. It is close to both air and seaports. A number of UN agencies and international NGOs use the facility. It is currently playing an important role in the response to Hurricane Matthew. His Royal Highness will also visit the site of Expo 2020 and meet some of the young Emiratis who have been trained to work on the project. Her Royal Highness will go to the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children. This is the first licensed non-profit shelter in the U.A.E. for victims of domestic violence, child abuse and human trafficking.
Their Royal Highnesses will complete their tour in Bahrain between the evening of 8 November and 11 November. There will be a number of elements that pick up on the 200th Anniversary. They will visit the Post Office Museum for the launch of a stamp commemorating the anniversary. His Royal Highness will visit the Mina Salman naval base for a briefing by the Royal Navy's UK Maritime Component Command, which covers the Royal Navy's operations right across the Gulf and Indian Ocean, and to see the new permanent base that is being built for the Royal Navy. Both of Their Royal Highnesses will attend a reception hosted by the Ambassador which will celebrate the 200th Anniversary.
His Royal Highness will visit the Southern New Town development, which is designed to be an exemplar of social housing and sustainable urban development in the region. The Prince's Foundation for Building Community has been playing a key role in the development. He will also go to Tubli Bay to learn about the programme to clean up and regenerate this once heavily polluted water. He will see a mangrove swamp and meet environmentalists. He will attend an event for young people and entrepreneurs at the National Museum and see a Spitfire, there to commemorate the fact that during the Second World War the Bahrainis paid for six of the aircraft for the Royal Air Force.
Her Royal Highness will visit St Christopher’s School, which teaches the British curriculum, and the Supreme Council for Women where she will meet women who are entrepreneurs and women who occupy leadership roles in a range of fields.