Visitors look at South Korean Hanwha Land Systems’ K9 Thunder 155 mm/52 calibre self-propelled howitzer at the company’s pavilion during IDEX 2019 on Tuesday. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The Defence and Security Development Fund of Tawazun Economic Council announced investment into Al Marakeb Boats Manufacturing, in return for 30 per cent ownership.

The two parties signed the agreement during the International Defence Exhibition (Idex 2019) in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.

Al Marakeb is the builder of boats, both manned and unmanned and specialised marine electronics. The firm is based in Sharjah.

Tareq Abdul Raheem Al Hosani, Chief Executive Officer of Tawazun Economic Council said that the agreement stems from Tawazun’s commitment to the development of the defence and security industry in the UAE and to the country’s GDP.

He added that the Fund’s main objective is to enable emerging national companies in the defence and security sector through the provision of flexible finance and investment.

In an interview to Gulf News, Nour Al Sayyed, Chief Operating Officer of Al Marakeb Boats said the deal was in the making for many years and the common interests of both the firms brought them together.

“The deal will give further boost to our growth plans and give us opportunity to further enhance our capabilities,” he said.

The company is planning to increase its boat production capacity in the coming years and expand its presence in the region.

The Sharjah based company currently has a production capacity of 60 vessels per year along with 500 maritime electronic units.

“We are trying to collaborate with other boat builders to increase our production capacity as well as our turnover,” said Al Sayyed.

The company for the first time presented its armed USV (unmanned surface vessel) at Idex 2019 that was built in collaboration with the UAE boat builder Al Hareb Marine.

“We’ve been building since 2007, this is the time we integrated a vessel with a weapon,” she said. “We are budding USVs and they can be used for surveillance, for water survey, alarm systems and fire fighting. We built and delivered a boat to Dubai Civil Defence for firefighting capability.”

Customers of the company include firms in the oil and gasfield, defence sector, government entities with maritime assets.

Regionally, more than half of the sales go to the Gulf region and good percentage outside also, she added.

“We have a number of projects in Southeast Asia and also sold to other counties including Seychelles, Brazil, Uganda, but we have heavy amount of sales in the Gulf region, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE.”

The company is self-financed and sees demand for vessels to pick up in the coming years.

“The has always been a big investor in unmanned industry.”