The UAE Armed Forces awarded Dh2.8 billion worth of contracts on day four of the International Defence Exhibition and Conference (Idex), with the four-day total beating figures achieved during the whole of the five-day 2017 event.
The Armed Forces awarded 29 contracts, with 22 of them going to local companies and the remainder to their international competitors, General Mohammed Al Hassani, Idex spokesman, said. The total figure for the first four days is Dh19.65bn, higher than 2017's total figure of Dh19.17bn
International companies won contracts worth Dh1.9bn on day four, with the biggest deal of Dh1.19bn clinched by Kaman Precision of the US.
French Nexter Systems, which is a unit of European land forces defence group KNDS, also won a Dh516 million contract to provide technical support, supply spare parts, and technical repair services for Leclerc tanks.
The local companies' share of contracts reached Dh787.7m, with the major winners including the International Golden Group with two contracts worth Dh106m to purchase navigation systems for NIMR vehicles and light ammunitions to the UAE Armed Forces. Trust International won a Dh300m deal to provide technical support for the BMP-3 armoured infantry fighting vehicle.
So far the biggest single contract awarded during the first four days is a Dh5.73bn deal related to the Patriot missile systems manufactured by Raytheon of the US.
The biennial event taking place in Abu Dhabi has attracted a record number of exhibitors and participating countries.
The UAE has the biggest pavilion in terms of space, followed by the US, Germany, France, Italy and Saudi Arabia. The number of participating countries rose 9 per cent to 62, while the number of exhibitors increased six per cent to 1,310, with international companies accounting for 85 per cent of participants, organisers said earlier this month.
The single biggest space is occupied by the International Golden Group, which is one of 170 local companies taking part in the exhibition.
The event takes place amid an increase in military spending by the hydrocarbon-rich countries of the six-member economic bloc of GCC and the wider Middle East and North African region.
The Arabian Gulf's spending on procurement is forecast to grow 15 per cent to $17bn in 2023, as defence budgets expand again following some project delays during the three-year oil price slump that began in 2014, according to a Jane's IHS Markit report.
Overall defence spending by Gulf countries is forecast to increase $110.86bn by 2023 from $103.01bn in 2019 as nations modernise their military equipment and expand capabilities, according to the report.
The regional spending is being accompanied by plans to boost localisation of defence industries, particularly in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, amid plans to reduce their reliance on oil, create jobs for young nationals and transfer technical know-how from western defence companies as part of the package for their arms deals.
Local talent can then acquire high-tech skills in defence manufacturing, from AI to cyber-security, and develop applications for civil and commercial purposes.
Saudi Arabia, for example, has set up Saudi Arabian Military Industries, which is owned by the kingdom's sovereign wealth fund, to help localise at least 50 per cent of military spending by 2030.
In the UAE, Tawazun Economic Council, the body tasked with developing a home-grown defence industry, has set up a Dh2.5bn fund to provide financing for local companies and has already invested or about to invest in two of them.