Exhibitors at Idex last year. A number of UAE defence companies representing Emirates Defence Industries Company (Edic) and Tawazun Holding will be taking part in the event. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News archives

Abu Dhabi: Top defence companies from across the world will converge in Abu Dhabi as part of International Defence Exhibition and Conference (Idex 2017) that kicks off on Sunday.

More than 1,200 defence firms from fifty seven countries will be taking part in the five day event being held at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.

Big names in the global defence industry including Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Boeing, Embraer, Northrop Grumman will be present showcasing their latest technology and defence equipment.

Russia, one of the largest arms manufacturers in the world will showcase 240 pieces of military equipment for all types of armed forces. Denis Manturov, Minister of Industry and Trade of Russia, will be the head of delegation to Idex, according to the Russian Embassy. Rostec CEO Sergey Chemezov is also expected to be present.

Apart from global defence giants, a number of UAE defence companies representing Emirates Defence Industries Company (Edic) and Tawazun Holding will be taking part in the event.

Edic was created by the UAE government in 2014 by merging a number of companies from Mubadala, Tawazun Holding and Emirates Advanced Investment Group.

Industry growth

Twelve companies from Edic will be showcasing the latest developments and innovations from the manufacturing, mapping, maintenance, repair and overhaul, communications, logistics, training and technology development sectors, Edic said in a statement.

The UAE defence industry has been growing over the years with equipment being sold not only in the UAE but across the Mena (Middle East and North Africa) region and in other parts of the world.

For example, pistols, rifles and snipers made by Caracal are being exported and sold in various markets in Mena region and also in Europe.

The government is also trying to boost the local defence industry by establishing special zones like Tawazun Industrial Park on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi and Nebras park in Al Ain.

Security threats, Iran

Idex 2017 takes place as security threats grow in the region due to emergence of Daesh and conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Re-emergence of Iran following years of international sanctions is also a cause of concern, according to a study by consultancy IHS Jane’s.

New military capabilities

The study also says that Middle East defence budgets will return to growth in 2017 as the region increases its drive to acquire new military capabilities following a dip due to the collapse in oil prices.

“We expect Saudi Arabia and the UAE in particular to begin to start to spend heavily again over the next two years,” said Craig Caffrey, principal analyst at IHS Jane’s Defence Budgets.

IHS Jane’s expects 2 to 3 per cent growth a year by 2018 in real terms. Defence spending for the Middle East and North Africa region will rise to around $180 billion (Dh660.6 billion) by 2020.

Saudi Arabia will remain by far the largest spender on defence in the region for the foreseeable future. Saudi Arabia is now the fourth largest spender on defence globally in dollar terms. The depreciation of the pound has seen the UK drop to fifth.

“The uncertainty that a more capable Iran coupled with questions regarding US long-term engagement in the region have induced many Gulf states to ‘green light’ a number of strategic procurement programmes,” the study says.