60,000 to visit Abu Dhabi defence exhibition

More than 60,000 visitors are expected at the annual International Defence Exhibition and Conference that starts in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

A Bin Jabr Group, Nimr open top vehicle on display during Idex 2009 in Abu Dhabi. Philip Cheung / The National
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ABU DHABI // More than 60,000 visitors are expected at the annual International Defence Exhibition and Conference that starts on Sunday.

The conference, or Idex, will display cutting-edge defence technology from 140 companies.

It will include demonstrations of equipment as varied as helicopters, clip-on thermal weapons sights and a device that translates conversations as they are spoken.

Idex will run at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre until Thursday next week. Exhibitors from around the world will showcase technology for use in land, sea and air defence, and related products such as medical, navigation and radar systems.

Local companies including Mubadala and Tawazun will have significant presence.

Special areas will be set aside for live demonstrations of vehicles from piloted aircraft to unmanned drones.

Government representatives and defence officials from across the world are expected to attend the event, being held under the patronage of the President, Sheikh Khalifa.

While many exhibitors have been tight-lipped about their products, one company, Raytheon, said it would be displaying two new products.

One is the clip-on thermal weapon sight, described as a "compact, lightweight, all-weather, infra-red imaging device that cuts through battlefield obscurants and delivers clear surveillance imagery".

Another is TransTalk, "a portable, two-way translation device that automatically translates human speech from one language to another and can be configured for any pair of languages".

In 2008, Raytheon signed a deal worth up to US$3.8 billion (Dh13.95bn) for the Patriot Missile defence shield.

And a project to develop a laser-guided rocket system with a local company was announced in 2011.

"Raytheon is proud of its long and sustained relationship with the UAE," said Matt Riddle, president of Raytheon International.

"We look forward to continuing to meet the needs of our customers across the region to help ensure that their armed forces are well equipped to address regional security concerns and protect their citizens."

Another exhibitor, Caracal International, which specialises in lightweight guns, has promised to display a new mystery product.

"We will display guns and sniper rifles, and a new product will also be launched," said Khamis Al Shamsi, head of sales and marketing. "Everything we will display is great but the new product is what will make us famous."

Mr Al Shamsi said the company would demonstrate its new products using ex-military personnel. He said the key to the exhibition was not necessarily to seal deals on the day.

"The goal of being in Idex is to seek new opportunities," he said. "We might sign business deals but in the future, not directly."

Part of the exhibition centre will be dedicated to Navdex, which will exhibit the latest naval equipment and coastal-security technology.

Tomorrow, Idex will feature its official annual Gulf Defence Conference.


* With additional reporting by Zaineb Al Hassani