Commonwealth Hub, with Baroness Scotland as...

Commonwealth Hub, with Baroness Scotland as...

Her original name was given in honor of Clementine Churchill, the Queen Mother’s mother

The British-dubbed Commonwealth Hub in the United Arab Emirates went out of business yesterday, within hours of being officially opened.

The £10.8million business hub for Commonwealth countries – which was fully funded by the Government – was supposed to help Commonwealth businesspeople to do business with each other through fast internet, digital telecommunications and its own shipping channel.

However, to the fury of regional businesspeople it was later revealed that Baroness Scotland – the British-dubbed Commonwealth Secretary-General – was one of its original proprietors.

The British-dubbed Commonwealth Hub, which was officially opened in the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday, went out of business after being given the name the 'Commonwealth Hub' in the new name

The hub was officially opened by the Queen in Dubai, with Margaret Thatcher, former prime minister, in attendance

Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was also in attendance as the hub, which was never built, went up in spectacular style, was touted as one of the world’s best-kept secrets, and costing some £10.8million.

It was opened by the Queen last Wednesday, drawing a huge global media spotlight, and boasting such works as a cyber-super highway, which transformed how internet was routed in the region.

The hub’s directors were unaware until last year that Baroness Scotland, who has also been representing the Commonwealth abroad, was an unregistered director of the Commonwealth Hub.

In 2016, authorities in her home country began handing over ownership of the World Government Summit in Abu Dhabi to the Commonwealth Heads of Government’s group.

The hub was dubbed a ‘glamorous hub’ as it was touted as one of the world’s best-kept secrets, boasting such works as a cyber-super highway

It also featured the Cyber Route to drive internet and telecommunications to business executives and officials

The hub went ahead in the midst of a major overhaul of the UAE’s already deregulated economy, which is seeing the rapid growth of fintech and e-commerce.

Rida Al Hattab, the British Ambassador to the UAE, was said to be saddened by the hub’s sudden closure.

He said: ‘This was a private enterprise, owned by a group of people who were interested in bringing business across the region.’

On being questioned as to why Baroness Scotland was involved with the project, Al Hattab referred to a source who had not been identified, who said that the hub’s other directors were disappointed.

Baroness Scotland (pictured in March this year), who has also been representing the Commonwealth abroad, was an unregistered director of the Commonwealth Hub

The hub was hailed as an ‘underdog of the digital age’, which would ‘make a difference to anyone who cares about the future of the world’

‘Informal conversations with them suggest that they are very frustrated with the hub’s closure,’ the source said.

‘The first thing they got out of the project was the seven-figure sum they received for their investment.

‘Then, just as the hub was getting set up, the Government forced them to sell the rights to the exhibition hall.’

The hub was hailed as an ‘underdog of the digital age’, which would ‘make a difference to anyone who cares about the future of the world’.

This is not the first time Baroness Scotland, who is also patron of the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, has faced accusations that she is seeking favor from wealthy Arab countries.

Under former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair, Baroness Scotland was accused of trying to use her Commonwealth connections to finance a the controversial 2006 Pakistan-Libya Friendship Summit.

It came after she travelled to Tripoli in 2007 with Gaddafi to woo him, and later became a close friend.

As she made good on her promise to ‘dare to dream’ for Libya, the oil-rich country was rocked by the assassination of its former dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

The move by the Emirate’s government to close the hub was condemned by the US diplomatic network, where it said that the hub had been officially opened by the Queen – the first time any Commonwealth country had received a visit from the monarch in 50 years.

However, US ambassador Jane Hartley tweeted: ‘There is no Commonwealth Hub open yet. The UAE reportedly closed one just hours before [her] visit.’


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