News / Middle East

UAE Leads Gulf Arab Push to Build Up Domestic Defense Industry

Visitors walk past a stand for Italian defence group Finmeccanica during the International Defense Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, February 19, 2013. Visitors walk past a stand for Italian defence group Finmeccanica during the International Defense Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, February 19, 2013.
x
Visitors walk past a stand for Italian defence group Finmeccanica during the International Defense Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, February 19, 2013.
Visitors walk past a stand for Italian defence group Finmeccanica during the International Defense Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, February 19, 2013.
Reuters
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is at the forefront of a regional push to build up domestic defense manufacturing capability to reduce reliance on imports that come with too many strings attached, analysts say.

Wary of non-Arab adversary Iran in a competition for  regional predominance, and seeing an increased security threat from Islamist militants, Gulf Arab monarchies have some of the fastest growing military budgets in the world.

The UAE has established a small defense industry that includes maritime security and defense-related services such as maintenance and repairs over the past two decades.

Now, the UAE has begun to pursue more sophisticated, high-tech capabilities in a strategy combining joint ventures with foreign firms and a programme in which deals commit companies to transfer technology and skills to the Emirates.

"The point of the UAE having an indigenous defense industry  is to become self-sufficient and break away from the stranglehold of particular countries," said Theodore Karasik, director of research at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis.

"The United States has some of the most advanced technology capabilities but because of technology transfer restrictions to other countries, the UAE wants to find solutions to those problems from elsewhere."

The UAE and Saudi Arabia are among several states, according  to diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks, that have asked U.S. officials to buy armed drones but which have been rebuffed. The Gulf Arab state this week awarded a contract to buy an unarmed version of a Predator drone from U.S. firm General Atomics.

"The aim is both to be defense-capable and part of the diversification of the economy," UAE military spokesman Obeid al-Ketbi told a news conference at the biennial International Defense Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) in Abu Dhabi.

"We are working hard through joint ventures on this strategy of defense capabilities and industry."

The UAE is forecast to spend up to $12.9 billion per year on defense over the next three years, compared with $9.3 billion in 2011, said David Reeths, director of aerospace and defense consulting for Europe, Middle East and Africa at IHS Jane's.

Funded from huge oil and gas revenues, Gulf Arab states are on pace for an overall 4.6 percent yearly growth in defense spending over the next few years, Reeths said.

In contrast, the global annual rate is forecast at 1.3  percent over the same period. China's defense budget is expected to rise 9 percent in the same time.

High Tech, Small Scale

High-tech and small scale is the best way forward for the UAE's local defense manufacturing, according to Ali al-Dhaheri, general designer at the privately-owned, Abu Dhabi-based ADCOM Systems, which makes and exports drones.

"We don't care about larger-scale industry, the country is small. We don't want to fool ourselves. We are small and all our manufacturing will probably be hi-tech and small-scale. And services will also be part of it."

A recent joint venture between Abu Dhabi government-owned Tawazun and Sweden's Saab AB to build advanced radar systems in the UAE highlights the strategy.

"That's really a very high-technology capability so that's a first for the UAE," Reeths said.

The UAE already has several joint venture defence deals with global players including Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

Abu Dhabi's investment vehicle Mubadala is expanding on the services side of the sector, running seven local companies in defence-related operations such as maintenance and repairs.

On Tuesday, Ketbi announced that over 2 billion dirhams  ($544.5 million) worth of deals had been awarded with Mubadala's Advanced Military Maintenance Repair and Overhaul Centre (AMMROC, winning a 1.8 billion dirham aircraft maintenance contract.)

Analysts and industry players said Gulf Arab countries would need to coordinate if they wanted their region to develop a broad industrial defence base. But mistrust and rivalry among Gulf states was preventing any such coordination, Karasik said, and for now the UAE was leading the pack.

"In the short term I don't see unity or alignment in the defense industry [in the Gulf], but I do see a lot of countries mimicking the UAE,'' he said. "You see Saudi trying to do this, and also Oman and Kuwait but it's on a much smaller scale. They don't have the Mubadalas and Tawazuns."

ADCOM's Dhaheri agreed that any coordination among the Gulf states - which maintain a loose economic and political bloc as well as a Gulf defence pact - on this front was a long way off.

"We would love to see that but given the turbulence in the region we have to be realistic. I don't think we are ready yet for integration."

You May Like

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid