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

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines 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.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid