ABU DHABI // Firearms sales increased by between 10 to 20 per cent at this year's Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition (Adihex).
German hunting rifles, 9mm pistols and .408 calibre sniper rifles were the top sellers.
The four-day exhibition, at Adnec, welcomed more than 100,000 visitors - up from 97,812 last year.
In the first three days, 1,002 firearm licences were issued and sales representatives said demand rises each year. In 2010, 1,016 weapons, worth Dh12.3 million, were sold. A full report on this year's sales will be issued in the coming days.
MP3 International sold 200 firearms, a fifth more than last year.
Popular items included the Beretta 9mm hand pistol, the Benelli Vinchi 12-gauge shotgun and rifles "for big game".
"At the end it was better than last year by 20 per cent because the last day was very good for sales," said Ahmed Kamel, operations manager of MP3 International. "Most buyers were VIPs and sheikhs."
Caracal Light Ammunition sold 90 pistols, more than 25 rifles and 50 memberships by 7pm on Saturday.
Tawazun Advance Defense Systems sold 16 of its .408 sniper rifles to government personnel.
On display at Adihex for the first time was the KS-11 sniper rifle, valued at more than Dh55,000. The price of a TSR-12 was kept confidential. The Abu Dhabi-designed and manufactured rifles are for sale only to UAE security forces.
"Usually we deal only with the Ministry of Defence in the UAE," said Anas Naser Al Otaibi, the company's general manager. "If somebody from outside the UAE wants to buy they need to speak to the Ministry of Defence."
Only GCC citizens were eligible to buy firearms at Adihex. Emiratis must register firearms with the police and renew their permits on an annual basis.
Most firearms sold will be for use at shooting clubs or on hunting expeditions outside the UAE.
Emiratis who provided a Criminal Status Certificate were able to get licences issued in less than 10 minutes at the exhibition.
Merkel sales rose by 10 to 15 per cent, with its most popular item being the Helix 30-06 rifle. The exhibit "is a good chance for us to communicate with the public, more than the business," said Ali Kaabi, the sales manager for Merkel GCC.
Daoud Al Dabous, chair of the Kuwaiti company Al Gannas Gulf, attracted buyers with novelty rifles.
"We saw we needed something to keep the customers surprised. Everyone has the usual gun," he said.
This year's specials were a set of three gold and jewel-encrusted rifles: Al Yamania, Al Jowhara and Aroos Al Khaleej.
Last year's showpiece was a rifle called Emarat, covered in 10,500 Swarovski crystals in the colours of the UAE flag. "The flag means the country," Mr Al Dabous said. "The man carries the gun to protect the flag from anything bad."
He hoped the bling would entice GCC nationals to buy despite new, stricter licensing laws.
"We have many, many customers but the problem is the licence," Mr Al Dabous said. "Customers will offer double the price but we say they need to buy the gun in a legal way."