UAE arms manufacturer Caracal aims to boost exports amid 'very fast growth'

Company will begin production of UAE’s first light machinegun this year and could export it to different markets, chief executive says

Hamad Al Ameri, chief executive of Caracal, with the new Caracal light machinegun that was unveiled at the International Defence Exhibition. Victor Besa / The National
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Caracal, the biggest small arms manufacturer in the Middle East, expects its business to “grow very fast” in the next five years and is looking to boost its exports globally, its chief executive has said.

“I see our business growing very fast, especially [in the context of] what is happening in the world … security demand is always there and is growing,” Hamad Al Ameri told The National at the International Defence Exhibition (Idex) in Abu Dhabi.

He did not give a revenue projection for the company in the next two years, but said it performed well in the past five years as it continues to export to different markets in the Middle East, North Africa and South-East Asia.

“Export orders are looking good. We are already at full capacity and fully booked for next year and that’s the reason why we are looking for new partnerships to keep up with all this demand," he said.

Defence companies are boosting the production of different products as geopolitical tensions rise globally after the start of the Ukraine conflict.

Set up in 2007, Caracal is part of the defence conglomerate Edge. It manufactures pistols, sub-machineguns, assault rifles and sniper rifles.

This week, it signed a new partnership agreement with India’s Icomm for the manufacture of small arms in Asia’s third-largest economy, including pistols, sub-machineguns and assault rifles.

The production is expected to start this year, Mr Al Ameri said.

The company also aims to export Indian-made rifles to international markets as part of its expansion plans.

“Basically, the agreement with India is to cement what we started two years back with Indian partners,” he said.

“We are ready to move with making the right percentage of [contribution] for the Make in India initiative.”

India aims to boost the domestic manufacturing sector and attract more investment into the country as part of the programme unveiled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014.

Caracal has similar agreements with international partners in Europe, the US and South America, as it continues to expand globally.

The company unveiled a new Caracal light machinegun this week to expand its product portfolio. This is the first machinegun to be developed in the UAE and production will start this year, he said.

“We are in the final stages of testing and getting to the last stage before full production,” Mr Al Ameri said.

“We will start with filling the needs of the UAE Armed Forces, but from there we are open to selling this product to the international market, especially in the GCC, Middle East, Asia and Africa."

There is "a big demand” for this product in the market, he said.

Supply chain disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the Ukraine conflict have affected the production of different products, leading to higher prices and delays in delivery.

The company is “working very well with our partners and suppliers from Middle East, India and South-East Asia” on the supply chain, Mr Al Ameri said.

Caracal also plans to introduce new products as demand increases.

“We have a lot of our products coming in the pipeline in the next few years. We are making products lighter and we have new calibres to introduce," he said.

The move comes as the UAE aims to grow the contribution of the manufacturing sector to the country's gross domestic product to Dh300 billion ($82 billion) by 2031, from Dh133 billion in 2021.

It is also encouraging companies to manufacture products locally as part of the Make it in the Emirates initiative.

Updated: February 24, 2023, 4:00 AM