Biggest Mideast arms fair opens in Abu Dhabi

ABU DHABI — The Middle East’s biggest arms fair, International Defence Exhibition (IDEX-2007), opened in the United Arab Emirates yesterday with hundreds of manufacturers displaying state-of-the-art weaponry to the states that are keen on upgrading their armed forces.

By (AFP, Wam)

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Published: Mon 19 Feb 2007, 9:12 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 2:33 AM

Idex-2007The eighth biannual International Defence Exhibition, which was first held in 1993, was opened by the President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The opening ceremony was attended by His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and other ministers and Shaikhs.

Country of peace

The UAE is determined to “reinforce its defence capacity through the acquisition of the most sophisticated equipment in the military industry worldwide,” Shaikh Khalifa told participants.

“Our country is a country of peace ... but we think that peace needs a force to protect it.” A total of 862 exhibitors from 50 countries, including the United States, France, Britain, China, Italy, Turkey, Russia and South Korea, are showcasing their latest products for the Gulf countries. Shaikh Khalifa, who is also Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, noted the steady increase in the number of national pavilions participating in the defence shows inside and outside the country, a move, he said, had enabled those exhibitors to establish successful partnerships with a number of international manufacturers of defence systems and equipment.

The President said the exhibition has been marked by excellence and success thanks to the prudent leadership and far-sighted vision of late Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who has laid foundations of a modern state basking in security and stability and well placed in the world map.

“Our endeavours and strategies,” he maintained, “are set to transform the UAE not only into a regional centre for major international fairs and conferences in the Middle East, Asia and Africa, but also into a regional hub for the global economy and hence be at the forefront in areas of economy, investment, industry, technology and science.

National interests

“The UAE military strategy and its plan to build an integrated and solid defence system reflect our keenness to safeguard its supreme national interests and sovereignty as well as possess, build and enhance the deterrent defence force,” said Shaikh Khalifa.

The Prresident said that the UAE will continue to support the strategic plans, upgrade the armed forces and bolster the defence capacities by providing the latest technologies in arms industry.

“We have repeatedly confirmed that the UAE is a state of peace, understanding and harmony. This has been our approach since the establishment of our young country, and it will continue in the future.

“However, we believe that there is a persistent need for a power to protect peace, and strong people with deterring and responding capacities are the real protectors of peace.”

The pro-Western Gulf Arab states are seeking to reinforce their armed forces and security systems amid heightened instability in neighbouring Iraq and the international community’s nuclear standoff with Iran.

The organisers of the five-day exhibition, who are expecting some 40,000 visitors, boasted that previous editions of the show had ”largely influenced armament decisions by countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.”

In 2006, Gulf countries concluded armament deals worth $35 billion, said Mustafa Alani, a security expert at the Dubai-based Gulf Research Centre (GRC).

British suppliers won some $13 billion of these contracts, US firms $11 billion and French manufacturers $10 billion, Alani told AFP.

Between 2000 and 2005, accummulated armament spending by the Gulf Cooperation Council countries totalled $233 billion, representing 70 per cent of armament expenditure in the Arab world and four per cent worldwide, a survey published by the GRC in January found.

Last summer, the Pentagon notified Congress of possible arms sales to Saudi Arabia — the biggest spender of the six — totalling well over $9 billion.

The mooted deals included M1 Abrams tanks, light armoured vehicles, Black Hawk helicopters and upgrades for AH-64 attack helicopters.

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