WikiLeaks: Gulf Air and other shenanigans

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The right choice for the right reasons?
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6. (C) The Gulf Air board, now controlled entirely by the GOB, made clear to Naff its vision for Gulf Air as a robust, revitalized national carrier. The airline needed to grow rather than shrink. In October 2007, Gulf Air signed an MOU to purchase Boeing Dreamliners. However, the board reversed itself shortly thereafter, citing concern over being able to justify a decision for Boeing to the parliament in the face of a steeply discounted airbus quotation; the Airbus package was reportedly $400 million cheaper.

[…]

15. (C) The Embassy’s role in Boeing’s success is noteworthy for advancing well beyond every-day advocacy. Gulf Air relied on the Embassy to not only communicate with Boeing, but to get the best possible deal; Boeing turned to us for an understanding of the true facts on the ground (which at times belied appearances) and as a force multiplier, conveying the Boeing advantage at all levels. These efforts resulted in a win-win solution. In a letter of thanks to the Ambassador Boeing stated, “Your continued effort to touch the right leaders and remain a strong advocate for Boeing in this process made an enormous difference in the final outcome. The working together activity between you, your team, and Boeing is a model that we should really aspire to replicate in other countries.”

Very interesting reading. Have a look!

And if the Ambassador is this successful, why is he leaving and where is he going? Does he too have a ranch in Texas to retire happily ever after to I wonder?

Disclaimer: I love Boeing and voted against GF buying the original flurry of Airbus back when I worked with them. I left just as the Airbus was entered into service. And no, I wasn’t paid anything for my advocacy nor was my voice heard of given any weight!

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8 Comments
  • Robert
    8 January 2011

    What a fantastic use of Embassy resources! This is exactly what Embassies should be doing on behalf of their countries companies. There is a demonstrable return on tax dollars.

    Great work from the GOB as well to secure an additional $300 million discount and in straight business terms a classic demonstration of do or die. A greta all round story. And typical petulance from the French!

    I wish the British Embassy would help British companies in the same way. I recently visited the Embassy to be greeted by a sign with a long list of things the Embassy DOES NOT DO. They may as well say you are wasting your time here.

    • Jamie Bowden
      8 January 2011

      Robert
      Which sign did you have in mind and what did it say we would not do for British companies?
      Jamie Bowden
      British Ambassador

      • mahmood
        8 January 2011

        Thanks for the visit and the initiative Mr. Bowden.

  • Robert
    9 January 2011

    Mr Bowden

    Many thanks for response.

    I apologise for using the spirit rather than the letter of the notice outside the Embassy. The notice of course refers to what the Embassy won’t do for people rather than companies.

    If the British government supports its companies abroad in the same way as the U.S government does as described in the Wikileaks information I will be happy to stand corrected. My impression, without any direct first hand knowledge, is that this kind of support does not exist and has not for some time now.

    Has, and will, the British Embassy in Bahrain intercede directly with the Government and ruling family in Bahrain to support a major British deal – the Hawker Training jets for instance being a possible example?

    My argument is that this is a good thing – serving as it does to bolster vital economic interests. Governments should not be afraid of this kind of interference.

    Robert

    • nhusain
      9 January 2011

      Bahrain doesn’t need to waste money on Hawker Training Jets! Britain should lobby the Bahraini government to invest in English language teachers from Britain instead.

  • Jamie Bowden
    10 January 2011

    Thanks Robert. I can assure you that at the same the Americans were lobbying for Boeing I and senior members of the British Government were lobbying equally hard for Airbus. This included Lord Digby Jones, then Minister for Trade, flying in at no notice to meet senior Bahrainis. I won’t speculate here why Boeing won this contract. Rolls Royce will be supplying the engines for the A330s that Gulf Air are buying. The Embassy worked closely with RR to win this deal against intense US competition. We will also be helping them to win the contract to equip the 787s when they arrive. At the moment I am working with a number of British companies interested in a multi 100s million dollar deal in the oil and gas sector. I am confident that if you asked companies that we have helped in this way they would say that the Embassy’s role has been crucial to success. For all this, in practical terms we spend much more of our time helping small and medium sized British companies wanting to do business here. We can’t claim credit for the 30% increase in UK exports to Bahrain last year, but I think we can claim to have played a part.

  • Robert
    10 January 2011

    Janie

    Thanks for the response.

    Good to hear your support for Airbus during the contract negotiation stage and obvious success with RR. This type of intervention and assistance is vital in this part of the world.

    I would advise British companies wanting to do business here to come here for a while and find out a few things for themselves. It is not Europe or the U.S. but when you have been here a short time the playing field becomes clear. No substitute for on the ground intelligence.

    Happy New Year

    Regards

  • Jamie Bowden
    10 January 2011

    Robert
    Couldn’t agree with you more. This is not a bit of the world where companies can expect just to jet in and sign a deal. My Bahraini friends in business and Government often tell me that they like dealing with companies that spend quality time here and preferably have a resident office.
    Jamie

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