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UAE companies take spotlight at Idex

Idex 2013: Idex 2013 opened yesterday at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre with an emphatic display of local military hardware and technology.

From the Nimr armoured fighting vehicles sporting 20mm and 30mm automatic cannons standing guard over Tawazun's vast display area to the model of a 900-tonne Baynunah-class corvette decorating Abu Dhabi Ship Building stand - and standing in for the real ship moored across the road - the evidence was everywhere that the UAE's defence industry has come of age.

Idex 2013 opened yesterday at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre with an emphatic display of local military hardware and technology.

All the big companies were out in force, with Tawazun occupying the largest display area at the expo, and Mubadala coming a close second. UAE defence companies were taking up almost a third of the 43,000 square metres-plus stand space.

From ammunition manufacturers to military maintenance companies, their wares were on show at the expo, which runs until Thursday. What really caught the eye was the military hardware, made in the UAE.

The major players had just completed a highly successful year, in aviation, fighting vehicles and warships.

Last February at the launch ceremony for the Mezyad, the fourth ship in the Baynunah class corvettes, Abu Dhabi Ship Building (ADSB) announced it was in talks to secure orders for the new multipurpose missile ship from other regional navies.

"The Baynunah class is a unique and very sophisticated warship and it has attracted the attention of a number of navies in the region and around the world," said the ADSB then chief executive Mohamed Salem Al Junaibi before he retired at the end of 2012.

Who they were talking to was classified, but it was already known that the Saudi Arabian navy had embarked on a US$20 billion (Dh73.46bn)-plus expansion programme; the Kuwaiti navy was also understood to be a potential customer, according to Defense News, a publication based in the United States.

The Mezyad was one of six corvettes ordered by the UAE Navy in 2004 and expected to be in service by next year. The programme, worth Dh4bn, was the largest and most important contract for ADSB to date.

The first of the class was designed by both ADSB and the French shipbuilder Constructions Mecaniques de Normandie and built at its yard in Cherbourg. The five remaining ships were being built by ADSB at its yard in Mussafah.

"The Baynunah Corvette Class, which is the largest warship construction programme and a first-of-its-kind project in the region, will significantly boost the arsenal of the UAE Navy and enable it to effectively fulfil its duty of protecting the UAE's maritime territory," Mr Al Junaibi said during Meyzad naming ceremony.

In July ADSB launched the first Ghannatha class missile boat for the UAE Navy. Al Muroom is the fourth ship in the new class; the first three vessels were built by ADSB's partner, Swede Ship Marine.

Under the Dh935 million contract, ADSB will build nine missile boats and retrofit the 12 existing ADSB-built Ghannatha troop carriers into gunboats and mortar boats.

ADSB operates the most modern naval shipyard in the Arabian Gulf, and is the only shipyard in the region with the capability to build, refit, repair and upgrade complex naval warships.

Tawazun Holding, the UAE's industrial manufacturing and technology group signed a joint venture in July with Direction des Fabrications Militaires to establish a factory in Algeria capable of producing up to 200 armoured vehicles a year for the Algerian military.

Nimr Automotive, one of Tawazun's 12 subsidiaries, will transfer the necessary technology for the manufacture of two versions of its four-wheel-drive armoured vehicles.

"As the defence manufacturing industry becomes increasingly competitive globally, it is vital for manufacturers to seek out new ways of expanding their business," Saif Al Hajeri, the chief executive of Tawazun Holding, said at the time of signing.

 

dblack@thenational.ae

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