Idex organisers expect UAE defence deals to match 2019 levels

The UAE armed forces awarded Dh20.5bn worth of contracts to local and international companies during the previous edition

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The value of deals the UAE is expected to sign during next week’s International Defence Exhibition and Conference, or Idex, and the Naval Defence & Maritime Security Exhibition, or Navdex, is expected to be similar to those achieved in 2019, organisers said on Monday.

UAE armed forces awarded Dh20.5 billion ($5.58bn) worth of contracts to various local and international companies during the last Idex and Navdex events held two years ago.

International defence companies won 65 per cent of total contracts during the event, while local companies picked up the remainder.

“We are expecting more or less similar and [deals] will be announced based on a decision by a special committee on a daily basis,” said Saeed Al Mansoori, executive director of Capital Events, an Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Centre group company.

Idex and Navdex will run from Sunday, February 21 until Thursday, February 25, with a record number of exhibitors and participating countries expected to attend, organisers said.

Overall, about 900 exhibitors from more than 50 nations are due to take part in the 2021 event.

The UAE, the US, Saudi Arabia, China and France will have the largest pavilions, according to the organisers. North Macedonia, Azerbaijan, Luxembourg, and Portugal will be participating for the first time.

Israel, which was meant to participate in the event for the first time following its normalisation of ties with the UAE last year, will not take part due to Covid-19 curbs on travel, Reuters reported on Monday citing officials from Israel's Defence Ministry and Regional Co-operation Ministry.

“This [event] marks the commencement of the recovery phase from the Covid-19 pandemic, in spite of the ongoing global conditions,” Maj Gen Staff Pilot Faris Khalaf Al Mazrouei, chairman of the higher organising committee for Idex and Navdex, said.

“It will demonstrate how Abu Dhabi and the UAE are ready and able to organise, deliver and host leading international events.”

The five-day event takes place as Gulf countries increasingly focus on producing and procuring military equipment locally, signalling a shift in the way they do business with international defence companies.

Technology transfers and commitments to produce and buy equipment locally have become key factors in determining which companies secure global arms orders from the region.

In 2019, the UAE announced the creation of Edge, a defence conglomerate specialised in developing advanced technology for weapons systems, cyber protection and electronic warfare.

A number of global defence companies including Lockheed Martin, Raytheon Technologies, Italy's Leonardo, France's Naval Group, South Africa’s Paramount Group and others will take part in the event.

Saudi Arabian Military Industries and other defence companies from the region will also showcase their military equipment.