Trade between the UAE and the UK is set to increase despite the tough conditions in the global economy, Robert Kelly, deputy director of UK Trade and Investment in Abu Dhabi, told Gulf News. He said the UAE remained the UK\'s number one trading partner in the Middle East, with trade rising to nearly £9 billion (Dh33 billion) in 2010. This was strengthened by an agreement in 2009 by both countries to increase trade from the then figure of £7.5 billion to £12 billion by 2015. Kelly added that major investments by UAE companies in the UK were matched by British involvement in projects in Abu Dhabi, including Saadiyat Island. \"DP World will be investing £1.5 billion in the UK and this investment is providing, directly and indirectly, around 36,000 job opportunities\" he said. Article continues below \"In the UAE, master plans and designs for Zayed Museum and Ferrari World were conducted by British companies.\" Kelly also confirmed that the UAE is a trade and economic hub for the Middle East, being the number one market for UK exports, pushing Saudi Arabia into second place. Similarly, he noted that the UAE is keen to invest in companies which set up here and has offered an attractive range of packages, including favourable rates and start-up help, particularly in free zones. Strong relationship \"All of this augures well for a strong trading relationship in the future for two countries with ties going back over many centuries,\" Kelly said. Kelly said that UK businesses still have a lot to offer the UAE. The UK has encouraged high quality investment in creative industries, digital technologies, healthcare and research developments in the public and private sectors. For the UAE, the expertise of UK consultancies, professional training and education institutions offers help in its bid to improve regulatory standards and develop a knowledge-based economy, Kelly said. He noted that the UK is also keen to attract high quality foreign direct investment. He also pointed to the success of a recent drive to bring together leaders from the UK and the UAE. \"The two countries have established a UK-UAE CEO Forum, bringing together business leaders of both countries as an important part of the drive to boost trade and commercial ties between the UAE and the UK,\" he said.