Manama: The UK Secretary of State for Defence has praised his country’s relations with Bahrain and said that the country is an important market for UK companies.

“Bahrain continues to be an important strategic partner with our armed forces enjoying a very close relationship,” Philip Hammond said at the opening of the Bahrain Airshow 2014 on Thursday.

“I am delighted that a Royal Air Force Typhoon aircraft is able to visit and take part in the displays. I am also delighted that a number of UK companies across the military and civil sectors have identified Bahrain as an important market in which to do business. The significant UK presence is a reflection of the value we place on our relationship,” he said.

The UK Government is represented by Hammond, Air Chief Marshal Sir Andrew Pulford, chief of Air Staff, Lt General Simon Mayall, defence senior advisor Middle East, and Richard Paniguian, head of UKTI Defence and Security Organisation.

The United Kingdom’s Defence and Security Organisation also has a large stand in the exhibition area manned by RAF specialists.

Richard Paniguian Head UKTI DSO said that he was “delighted that the UK has such a strong delegation at this important Air Show, which we have supported since its inception in 2010.”

“We will continue to encourage UK companies to network and to identify suitable business opportunities and prospects for joint industrial and technological cooperation across the region, and with Bahrain, in particular, as we enter the third century of our deep and enduring relationship,” he said.

UK companies exhibiting at the Air Show include BAE Systems, Martin Baker, Ultra Electronics, Airbus UK, Serco, Selex and Thales UK.