ABU DHABI // A canal alongside Khaleej al Arabi Street is being dredged so small warships can be sailed up it during a defence exhibition in February. Work to dredge the canal to a depth of six metres has begun at the waterway opposite the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (Adnec), where the four-day International Defense Exhibition (Idex) will be held starting on Feb 22.
The exhibition, which has been staged in the capital every second year since 1993, showcases some of the tanks, weapons and new defence technologies available to governments around the world. It is also expected to focus on emerging security threats, such as climate change, dwindling potable water resources, cyber-attacks and international organised crime. "Whatever affects the wider world, affects us," said Gen Obaid al Ketbi of the UAE's Armed Forces and the chairman of Idex.
"We will discuss the things that are of the most concern right now: terrorism, water and nuclear security." He spoke yesterday at a press conference. Security issues have been at the forefront of the Government's agenda over the past few weeks. At a conference in Manama, Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, urged the GCC to include Iraq, to limit Iran's influence in the region. The UAE is also negotiating with the US to purchase several missile defence systems.
Gen al Ketbi would not comment on the progress of the purchases. Warships, submarines, aerial drones and other defence technologies are to be displayed at Idex. Gen al Ketbi said he could not be specific. During Idex 2007, contracts worth Dh2 billion (US$544 million) were announced, including Dh1.4bn in purchases for the UAE Armed Forces. This year, that figure is expected to be higher. "Military plans have priority with governments," said Gen al Ketbi. "I don't expect the global financial crisis to have an effect."
As many as 40,000 delegates are expected to attend Idex. Although Abu Dhabi has only about 13,000 hotel rooms, Adnec said not all of the delegates will attend all four days. Also, many are likely to stay in Dubai or Al Ain. "Every year people ask this question, and every year they manage to find hotel rooms," said Paul Vincent, the marketing director for Adnec. firstname.lastname@example.org