UAE: Drones pose big threat to civilians due to their insurgent use by terrorists, says minister

Speaking at the Umex conference in Abu Dhabi, Mohammed Ahmad Al Bodardi said nations must work together to protect civilians

Reuters file
Reuters file

Ismail Sebugwaawo

Published: Sun 20 Feb 2022, 12:15 PM

Last updated: Sun 20 Feb 2022, 12:32 PM

Drones, or remotely piloted aircraft, are increasingly being used by terrorists because of their low cost of procurement and easy accessibility, which poses a threat to the safety and security of civilians, a top UAE government official told the Unmanned Systems Exhibition (Umex) in Abu Dhabi.

In his keynote speech at the three-day conference on Sunday, Mohammed Ahmad Al Bodardi, UAE Minister of State for Defence Affairs, said there was a considerable danger posed by the fact that drones have become the preferred weapon among terrorist groups due to their low cost of production, efficiency, effectiveness and ease of procurement, particularly if there are regimes and countries sponsoring them.

“Drones can play a number of roles associated with traditional fighter planes, like monitoring, reconnaissance, and aerial attacks, so their use is starting to affect the concepts and credo of aerial operations and defence,” he said.

“Unmanned systems and drones have become synonymous with the real and unprecedented technological revolutions, which places the future in our hands, and is a reflection of the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and AI technology.”

In January, suspected drone attacks on two civilian facilities in Abu Dhabi by Yemen-based Houthi militants left three people dead and six injured. One fire caused an explosion in three Adnoc fuel tankers in Mussafah. Another minor fire broke out in the new construction area of the Abu Dhabi International Airport.

However, Al Bodardi that drones can also be considered one of the innovations that revolutionised many concepts and practices by providing opportunities and benefits to mankind.

“In the UAE, they are a main pillar for achieving the vision of our wise leadership’s vision represented in the ‘Principles of 50’, which are based on building the best and highest-growing economy in the world, and to strengthen the positive reputation and global stature of the UAE,” he said.

“On the other hand, drones still pose unprecedented risks and challenges, which compels us to take suitable measures to keep up with these changes, including drafting laws and regulations to organise their uses in the optimal way that serves security, stability, and peace in human communities.”

The minister pointed out that the UAE was committed to developing its capabilities for producing unmanned systems and drones to bolster its defensive capabilities and support the growth of its national economy.

“The UAE is also very keen on exporting these technologies to friendly and allied countries to support their efforts for bolstering regional and international security and stability. The UAE is committed to cooperating with its partners in research and development,” said Al Bodardi.

The minister said industrial efforts have succeeded in innovating solutions for the development of anti-drone defence systems at the lowest possible costs to protect the airspace from transgressions, being able to detect and track most types of drones and destroy them before they attack their targets.

“We must increase our joint efforts and continue developing such defensive systems to protect national security, bolster peace and stability in our counties, and protect the lives of the members of our communities and establishments,” he added.

Nations must work together to combat drone threats

Al Bodardi called on nations to work together to develop unmanned systems to benefit mankind and protect civilians.

“We have to band together to prevent drones from being used to threaten the safety of civilians and destroy economic establishments,” he said.


“We must double our efforts to protect international legitimacy and realise international peace and security, and to work together to keep the wheel of progress and prosperity moving forward for the sake of our future generations and for building a safer, brighter world.

“We must also elevate our creativity to confront challenges, foster trust and awareness in human interaction with smart machines, and make the right decisions in this unmanned age.”

The Umex Conference, held under the theme of 'Unmanned, Unbound: Realising The Promise of The Unmanned Revolution', brought together industry experts, academia thinkers and government entities to discuss new technologies in the unmanned systems and the challenges facing humanities, societies and industries, as well as potential solutions to these challenges.

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