For many around the world, the UAE conjures up images of tall futuristic buildings, seven star hotels and oversized shopping complexes. However, behind the glamorous façade and expensive PR campaign, there lies an increasingly authoritarian police state that contrasts greatly the flamboyant image it likes to project.
Countries like Saudi Arabia aren't just buying UK arms, they are also buying political support and very often silence about the human rights abuses they preside over. Changing this will take more than the cancellation of a few licences. It will need a complete overhaul of government foreign policy and an end to the hypocrisy at the heart of it.
It's less than two week until one of the world's biggest arms fairs, Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEI), rolls into London. The biennial event (taking place 15-18 September) will bring thousands of arms companies representatives together with mercenaries, generals and military delegations from some of the worst dictatorships in the world.
When countries like the UK sell weapons it doesn't just facilitate the attacks they are used in, it also sends a message of support to the governments that are carrying them out. For this to change it will require more than a few platitudes about human rights. It will need a complete overhaul of government priorities and an end to the hypocrisy that is at the heart of foreign policy.
Asked about the case in the House of Lords last week, Foreign Office Minister Baroness Anelay said that the UK government stands by "freedom of religion and belief and freedom of expression". But, she said, "we have to recognize that the actions of the Saudi government in these respects have the support of the vast majority of the Saudi population."
By the end, 16million people had been killed and 20million wounded in a war that had devastated and destroyed whole cities. Civilians and soldiers, often from poor backgrounds, paid the terrible price for a battle that was brought on by the rich and powerful rulers of competing imperialist powers...Very few benefited from the killing. It did, however, line the pockets of arms companies and their shareholders.
Arms sales are not apolitical acts. On one hand, they bolster the buyers by giving them a British endorsement as a fig-leaf of respectability, but they also buy the UK government's political support and compliance. As the crackdown continues to escalate it is becoming increasingly clear that decisions being made in support of arms sales are having serious consequences for the victims of state repression.
With the polls tightening and the bookmakers shortening their odds, there is now a very real chance that Scottish people will vote for independence in two weeks time... However, one of the most positive contributions has been the Scottish Government's commitment to a 'do no harm' arms exports policy in the event of a Yes vote.
Without justice there can be no peace in Bahrain, and that won't change as long as the UK is happy to promote and provide political cover for an illegitimate government that is inflicting untold misery on its own citizens. Only by ending the political and military support that is strengthening the regime can the UK ensure that it is promoting human rights and acting the best interests of the people of Bahrain.
Upon leaving the meeting and re-entering the real world we were treated to a sub-standard packed lunch and a shuttle bus back to the train station. What is clear is that Carr and the rest of the board has bought into their own propaganda and a dystopian world-view in which strengthening tyrants is a way to bring peace and stability, and where the human consequences of war have nothing whatsoever to do with those who provide the weapons.