Raytheon Emirates, a UAE-based wholly owned subsidiary of US defence contractor Raytheon which produces the Patriot surface-to-air missile system, expects to grow its business in missiles and cybersecurity in 2019, as the Arabian Gulf faces rising threats from geopolitical tensions in neighbouring states, its chairman said.
"The threats in the region are all growing very fast," Taylor Lawrence, who is also president of Raytheon's global missile systems division in the US, told The National. "If you take the work we're doing in missile defence and expanding the footprint of some of the systems we currently have in the country, like the Patriot system [comprising radars, command-and-control technology and multiple types of hostile missile interceptors], that's a significant opportunity."
Cybersecurity is another fast-growing opportunity for Raytheon’s 14-month-old UAE subsidiary, Mr Lawrence said. However, in terms of overall volume, missile defence is “probably the most critical capability” the company is developing in the Emirates. “It’s [driven by] the need for more security for the people, and the fact that ballistic missile threats are proliferating throughout the countries [in this region] and are coming from a lot of different directions, so there’s a real need for that capability,” the chairman added.
Iran is under mounting pressure from the US and the GCC over its ballistic missile programme and meddling in the internal affairs of neighbouring countries. GCC countries are taking on defensive and deterrent measures to protect themselves and check Tehran's expansionary ambitions.
US-headquartered Raytheon, which is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange and reaped $27bn of revenues in 2018, has been doing business with the UAE for more than 30 years, and other countries in the region for almost as long.
In 2017, it set up two standalone subsidiaries to consolidate its operations in the UAE and in Saudi Arabia. On Monday the company formally inaugurated Raytheon Emirates’ headquarters in Abu Dhabi Global Market, the emirate’s financial free zone. Raytheon Emirates was launched under the UAE’s Tawazun Economic Programme aimed at stimulating growth of the nation’s priority sectors to diversify its economy, and build a bigger pool of skilled Emirati workers.
"We've been doing business with the Emirates for over 30 years and we got to the point where it made sense – given the economic diversity in the country and the desire to produce indigenous capabilities here – to put a company here that could basically grow Emirati talent and develop technologies that we would either transfer from other parts of the Raytheon business, or develop here," Mr Lawrence told The National, following the inauguration ceremony.
Raytheon Emirates is keen to “build a pipeline of strong local talent” and may forge partnerships with colleges and universities in Abu Dhabi to offer internships and training programmes, he said.
The UAE is one of the biggest markets in the Middle East for Raytheon Emirates’ US parent, and the Middle East as a whole is set to continue growing at a significant rate for the foreseeable future.
“It’s a very important region for us given the security requirements, and one that we'll continue to invest in,” said Mr Lawrence.
As well as defence and security, Raytheon Emirates will aim to grow its operations in the aerospace industry, and areas such as air traffic control and the management of GCC airspace.
However, there are no immediate plans to establish Raytheon subsidiaries in other Middle East markets, Mr Lawrence said.
Working with companies such as Raytheon will “enhance the UAE’s investment environment and accelerate the transfer of advanced technology and technical know-how to the local market,” added Matar Al Romaithi, chief economic development officer at Tawazun Economic Council.
Raytheon Emirates' chief executive is Alan Davis, who was appointed last year. Mr Lawrence is based in the US.