Abu Dhabi: The UAE’s defence industry has achieved significant progress over the past few years and can now compete at a global level, a top official said.
Tareq Al Bannay, Staff Colonel Pilot at the UAE Armed Forces, told Gulf News that the achievements are a result of the guidance and directives from the country’s leadership to diversify its economic resources and reduce dependence on oil by 2030. The development of the defence industry is part of that wider vision.
“The UAE is at the forefront of defence and military industries in the region which will reduce the country’s dependence on oil and on imports from foreign countries of such weapons,” Al Bannay said.
He pointed out the UAE’s military industries had established international reputation with capabilities ranging from air to land to maritime and manufacturing. “Our military Industries have pursued more sophisticated, high tech capabilities, benefitting from joint ventures with major international companies that has led to technology transfer and helped increase Emirati experience and skills,” said Al Bannay.
He said the objective of the UAE is to be self sufficient in the defence industry. “We are doing our best to be self-sufficient through joint ventures that provide our national cadres with sufficient knowhow and knowledge to invent equipment and devices that meet our future needs,” he added.
Commenting on the UAE Armed Forces contracts with many local firms, Al Bannay said that the aim is to increase job opportunities for Emiratis. “Within three days, the UAE Armed Forces inked deals worth Dh14.1 billion to purchase weapons and equipment. More than 70 per cent of the amount has been awarded to local companies,” Al Bannay said.
The UAE defence industries cover the production of a wide range of products including portable arms, ammunition, naval vessels (construction and repair) and inflatable boats, aircraft systems (unmanned, structural parts, spare parts, engine maintenance and repair, ground support equipment), vehicles and vehicle superstructures.
Referring to Idex 2013, he pointed out that this year’s expo had helped create partnerships without running into too many bureaucratic hurdles. “Sellers and buyers meet directly and they finalise the deals on spot. In other words, the line of communication is direct — between vendors and buyers.”
With regard to fighters’ deal with France and the UK, Al Bannay said that talks are underway with both sides. “We are in talks and our teams are negotiating with both countries. What is important for us is the quality as all our equipment in the army are state of the art and any aircraft that would be bought from any country should meet our quality systems and that meets our future requirements. In other words, aircraft capabilities are priority to price,” he added.