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

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline 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.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid