The Middle East’s top military exhibition has already sold out of space almost three months before its doors are due to open amid rampant military spending regionwide.
The International Defence Exhibition and Conferences (Idex) will take place in Abu Dhabi from February 22-26.
Idex, which has been held every other year since its inception two decades ago, has expanded to include Navdex, a maritime defence exhibition and Umex, an unmanned systems exhibition.
Total naval defence spending in the Arabian Gulf and western Indian Ocean is expected to reach US$76.4 billion between 2010 and 2019, Idex said in a statement released on Sunday.
Idex is taking place as Middle Eastern countries’ defence spending is expected to rocket to $920 billion between 2014 and 2020, according to the consultancy IHS Jane’s Aerospace, Defence and Security.
Gulf countries are boosting their military expenditure to protect their borders in a region that is gripped by violence from Iraq to Yemen.
Growth in the defence budgets of GCC countries has been particularly high over recent years, and now accounts for about 83 per cent of overall military spending in the Middle East, according to IHS Jane’s annual defence budgets review. Spending on defence across the Mena region in 2013 grew by 12.1 per cent to $120.6bn, making it the fastest-growing region in percentage terms in the world. The report found that Saudi Arabia, Oman, Iraq and Bahrain all featured in the top five growth markets in percentage terms for 2013. Defence spending in the Mena region accounts for 7.8 per cent of worldwide expenditure, up from 5.2 per cent in 2008, according to IHS.
Qatar, the world’s biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas, said in March it signed contracts worth $23bn to purchase attack helicopters, guided missiles, tankers and other weapons from Boeing, Airbus, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and others.
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