The first COVID-19 Era Defense exhibition began on February 21st. The event takes place in Abu Dhabi, and with a promise that it would be as great as previous editions and the quarantine and COVID testing wouldn’t even be felt.
The bi-annual five-day events, International Defense Exhibition and Naval Defense Exhibition (IDEX and NAVDEX 2021), feature more than 900 exhibitors from 59 nations with 35 national pavilions. Among the new countries participating are North Macedonia, Azerbaijan, Luxembourg and Portugal; Israel backed out a week ago due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
“84% of companies exhibiting will be internationally based, while 16% will be UAE based entities which demonstrates the vast international interest in IDEX and NAVDEX,” said Humaid Matar Al Dhaheri, managing director and group CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (ADNEC), the shows’ organizers.
As part of the naval exhibition, 17 maritime units from 10 countries are stationed at the pier of ADNEC Marina and dedicated areas in Mina Zayed, Abu Dhabi’s port area. Units include the American guided-missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones, and the UAE’s Shouty coast guard boat, among others.
As the proud host, on the very first day of the show, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was the most eager customer, signing 19 defense contracts.
“Worth $1.37 billion, 22% of the deals were signed with seven international firms while 78% went to 12 local companies,” Staff Brig. Gen. Mohammed Al Hassani, official spokesman for IDEX and NAVDEX, said in a press briefing.
Among the deals:
- 12 B-250 light attack aircraft by UAE-based Calidus to the armed forces;
- armored vehicles by UAE-based Nimr to the land forces;
- seeker 400 unmanned aerial systems by South-African Denel SoC lTD to the command of presidential Guard;
- and the production of the GATRT-T air communication system by French Thales to the UAE Air Force and Air Defense Command.
The aim of the exhibition, as usual, is to expand UAE’s defense industry and sign valuable contracts with foreign companies.
“These conferences will contribute to our continued development and complement the UAE’s wider story of success over the next 50 years, helping build a competitive national economy based on knowledge and innovation,” Maj. Gen. Staff Pilot Faris Khalaf Al Mazrouei, chairman of the Higher Organizing Committee for IDEX and NAVDEX, said.
For example, Faisal Al Bannai, CEO and Managing Director of UAE-based EDGE Group, said that his company’s aim now was towards development of a more agile, bold and disruptive advanced technology centric defense sector.
“We are forging more meaningful partnerships with international defense contractors, and welcome the opportunities that IDEX and NAVDEX create for us to engage in trade as we mark our first-year anniversary,” he said.
Planning your week at IDEX 2021? Visit us at IDEX 2021 and NAVDEX – where we are showcasing our latest disruptive capabilities and solutions to enable a secure future. #FuturePossible. For more info, visit https://t.co/kNMLiuFREH. #FuturePossible pic.twitter.com/wrJqq2LLnB
— EDGE (@_edgegroup) February 22, 2021
— EDGE (@_edgegroup) February 21, 2021
— EDGE (@_edgegroup) February 22, 2021
Saudi firms are also taking part under the slogan “Invest in Saudi Arabia”, underlining their commitment to spending of 50% of the kingdom’s military and security spending on own products.
Under the General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI), 12 major defense companies are introducing developments in military technologies, including Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Public Investment Fund (PIF) and its affiliate Advanced Electronics Company (AEC).
NIMR, a unit of Abu Dhabi’s EDGE, entered an agreement with Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) to “explore opportunities” for the JAIS 4×4 vehicle in Saudi Arabia. NIMR will license technology to the Kingdom to enable local manufacture of the JAIS vehicle and develop Saudi Arabia’s supply chain capabilities.
“This agreement represents the first military collaboration between Saudi Arabia and the UAE and is a major step in boosting the already robust relations between our respective nations.”
JAIS 4×4 is the next-generation of mine-resistant, ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles, providing critical balance between firepower, survivability, and mobility for modern, conventional, and asymmetric operations.
“SAMI selected NIMR as its preferred local partner due to its strategic position as a key enabler of the Saudi Vision 2030,” said Walid Abukhaled, CEO of SAMI. “This achievement also supports PIF’s efforts through SAMI in localizing cutting-edge technology and knowledge, as well as building strategic economic partnerships.”
Boeing is present, expecting to gain some profit from aerospace defense industry contracts.
“We are happy to safely regain in-person customer engagement and continue discussions with our partners in the Middle East,” Jeff Shockey, vice president of Boeing’s global sales and marketing for defense, space & security and government services said at a pre-IDEX press briefing.
“The discussions will focus on a wide range of key services in the region including the T-7A Red Hawk pilot training system, KC-46A tanker, AH-64 Apache, CH-47 Chinook, and laser weapon systems, among others,” he added.
Boeing expects the government support and services market for 2020 to 2029 to be worth $1.4 trillion. The Middle East represents $195 billion of the services market, with more than 50% of that dedicated to defense and security services.
Raytheon Technologies will be exhibiting in its new identity for the first time since 2020’s merger.
“We are looking forward to demonstrate how we’re in a position to immediately address the priorities of our commercial and defense customers in the UAE and the region faster and more efficiently than ever before with our added scale,” Alan Davis, chief executive of Abu Dhabi-based Raytheon Emirates, said.
The French defense industry is focusing on innovation.
“At IDEX 2021, we aim to highlight Naval Group’s capacity to provide customer-centric innovation and differentiating technological responses to the most critical naval capability needs, such as information superiority, combat superiority and ability to last at sea,” Eric Papin, the company’s executive vice president and chief technical and innovation officer said.
Thales is expecting new partnerships.
“IDEX and NAVDEX have always been good for business, and this year we have some interesting partnerships under way,” Patrice Caine, Chairman and CEO of Thales, said.
In the following days of the events, more deals are sure to be concluded, and more interesting equipment and hardware is sure to be exhibited.
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