Abu Dhabi: The latest edition of the Middle East’s largest defence exhibition - International Defence Exhibition and Conference (Idex-2011) where global arms manufacturers vie for deals worth billions of dollars every two years was opened here on Sunday by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
He was accompanied by Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, senior government officials and diplomats.
A gala ceremony displaying the might of the UAE Armed Forces on land, air and sea marked the opening of Idex 2011 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. On display were latest combat aircraft, tanks and naval ships which demonstrated their combat readiness.
Some 950 exhibitors from as many as 50 countries are participating this time in Idex with as many as 151 firms from the UAE.
The exhibition will showcase the latest defence equipment and services for land, sea and airborne systems with participants including national and international delegations, procurement officials, industry analysts, military strategists as well as the world’s leading defence contractors.
Heightened security concerns due to civilian unrest in some Middle East and Arab countries and escalating tensions between the West and Iran could see wealthy oil-producing Gulf states ramp up their defence spending.
Crowds have taken to the streets in Libya, Yemen, Iran and Bahrain in recent days, inspired by popular revolts in Tunisia and Egypt.
At the last Idex in 2009, more than 900 firms showcased their wares and the UAE announced deals worth Dh18.5 billion.
It is widely expected that the deals that are going to be announced by the UAE during the latest edition of Idex is going to exceed the figure of 2009.
Arab countries and Israel have been big buyers of US warplanes, missile defence equipment and other weapons in recent years.
The US government in October announced an arms sale with Saudi Arabia worth as much as $60 billion.
Figures released by the US Congress last year showed that the six Gulf Arab states signed arms deals worth about $66.9 billion from 2002 to 2009.