Boris Johnson and Joanna Shields use Dubai trip to cement tie between technology clusters

London mayor Boris Johnson has used a visit to Dubai to forge a closer relationship between the two cities' technology sectors.

Former head of Europe for Facebook Joanna Shields has joined Boris Johnson to help develop closer collaboration between London and Dubai.

Shields, who is part of Johnson’s business delegation, took up the role as Tech City CEO in January, replacing former head Eric Van Der Kleij.

The trade mission to the Gulf has been made so that the Mayor can ‘open doors’ for London businesses seeking to expand operations in the Middle East.

The Mayor’s office highlighted the recent opening of’s London research and development centre in London as an example of what it is looking to promote. Later in 2013, Tech City-based Eyetease is set to launch digital taxi top advertising on a fleet of Dubai Taxis.

Johnson comments, ‘When choosing where to locate in Europe, big name companies are opting for London which is boosting plans to rival the best of the world’s tech centres.

‘The continued prosperity of this industry is a vital component of my plan to deliver jobs and growth for London. Global promotion and international collaboration is a key element to achieving this goal, which is why this link up with the Middle East’s premier silicon success story, Dubai Internet City, is such welcome news.’

Dubai currently boasts the largest ICT business park in the Middle East, Dubai Internet City. A memorandum of understanding will be signed at the site to cement the new collaboration.

Shields, CEO of Tech City and the UK’s business ambassador for digital industries, adds, ‘Dubai Internet City pioneered the concept of a technology cluster in the region, and in just over a decade it has managed to become a global magnet for some of the world’s fastest growing companies.

‘Dubai and London share a common commitment to creating the best place to imagine, start and grow a business. Together we will build a bridge that will enable entrepreneurs and the businesses they create to grow internationally.’

More on Tech City:

Speaking at the London Web Summit in March, Shields said that London’s Tech City will have targets to prove its success.

The Dubai visit is part of a wider series of trips Johnson is undertaking to overseas markets including India (December, 2012) China and Brazil. The Mayor’s offices says the aim is to attract foreign investment, promote export, create jobs in the capital ensuring London’s status as a global leader and building on the huge exposure London received as a result of hosting the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Managing director of MintTwist Elliot King, says, ‘In 2008 we noticed that the UAE was still attracting investment, despite the economic downturn. We were keen to grow our own business internationally and Dubai is a fantastic hub for doing that.

‘Since establishing our office, we have worked with a number of large regional and international organisations on digital marketing strategies and campaigns.  Later this year we will be launching our new online marketing system, XinSpring, initially to the Dubai market. We believe there are many opportunities for British businesses there.’

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter was the Editor for from 2012 to 2014, before moving on to Caspian Media Ltd to be Editor of Real Business.

Related Topics

Tech City