Abu Dhabi will host the International Defence Conference on February 20 next year in a hybrid format, taking place both virtually and at the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company’s Business Centre.
The conference will bring together thought leaders, policy makers and researchers. It will focus on the impact of innovation on the global defence sector and how the military industry can unlock the benefits of the so called Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The IDC will be organised as part of the biennial International Defence Exhibition (Idex 2021) and the Naval Defence Exhibition (Navdex 2021), which take place from February 21-25 next year at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.
More than 1,300 companies from across the land, air and marine defence sectors are expected to take part in the two exhibitions, according to an earlier report by state news agency Wam.
“Bringing together leading global experts and specialists to discuss the global defence sector is crucial,” said Khalifa Al Kaabi, chairman of the organising committee for the conference.
“The industry is a complex and dynamic one, with a large number of entities working to provide state actors with a range of measures that secure their country’s defences.”
The events will showcase the latest developments in the defence sector and highlight the latest in military technology. The exhibitions facilitate relationships between entities attending the event and major international companies.
The IDC will explore ways of protecting artificial intelligence and other disruptive technologies from misuse by either state or non-state actors, including terrorist and extremist groups. Panellists will focus on how governments, businesses and academics working in the sector, can collaborate to ensure the protection of critical technologies and ensure their benefits are used for wider peacekeeping efforts.
A second session will focus on disruption in the defence supply chain sector, which was experienced during Covid-19. The session will highlight how defence companies can support militaries in meeting their requirements, how defence manufacturing is changing and how supply chains need to maintain pace.
The third session will highlight research and development in the defence sector. Panellists will discuss how the defence R&D sector will focus on future technologies, including AI, and how this research can be used for civilian application.
The final session will discuss how digital technologies have created new cybersecurity challenges and their implications for the defence industry. Delegates will discuss how industry and government players can respond to threats such as third-party manipulation of technology, personal data theft, or weaponising of social media with false or misleading information.
The IDC has “come at [an] opportune moment where the world is focused on technological innovation,” said Matar Ali Al Romaithi, chief economic development officer of Tawazun, the body tasked with developing a home-grown defence industry.
The previous edition of Idex and Navdex in February 2019 welcomed 124,400 visitors. The UAE Armed Forced awarded contracts worth Dh20.5 billion during the five-day event.
International defence companies won 65 per cent of total contracts during the event while local companies won the remainder.
Abu Dhabi launched the Idex in 1993 which is now the biggest defence fair in the region and one of the largest in the world.
Defence spending continues to increase and has thus far been largely insulated from the pandemic's fallout. Total global military expenditure rose 3.6 per cent to $1.917 trillion in 2019, the biggest annual growth in spending in a decade, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.