x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

BAE Systems keen to share expertise

The world's second largest defence company BAE is looking to partner up with the UAE hoping to swap its technical knowledge for deals.

BAE Systems, the world's second-largest defence company, is in talks with a number of possible partners in the UAE to offer high-end technical and security know-how.

Simon Keith, the managing director of Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific for BAE, said the company was using Abu Dhabi's International Defence Exhibition (Idex) as a platform for continuing discussions with Emirates Advanced Investments (EAI) and Tawazun, the headline sponsor for the exhibition.

BAE is seeking possible partnerships on land-based and seaborne systems, and will offer niche technology in return for deals. "We're waiting for a programme to come along," Mr Keith said. "As soon as we agree one with Tawazun or EAI, then we're more than happy to get started."

The UAE plans to bypass the capital and labour-intensive industries growing economies traditionally develop, and instead build an industrial economy based on niche, high-end technology.

Abu Dhabi is focused on technologies such as composite aircraft parts, facial recognition systems and semiconductors.

"The likes of EAI, Tawazun and Al Jaber want to partner on specific technologies," Mr Keith said. "It's not about building a fleet of 5,000 armoured vehicles and getting people to bash metal."

BAE also hopes to offer training to Emirati graduates and advanced skills expertise.

"If you're a partner company with EAI in the UAE [such offers] give you an edge in winning or losing a contract," Mr Keith said. "There are a number of companies that can build an aircraft, a frigate or a tank, but who is actually bothered about sitting down with local industry and offering expertise and knowledge?"

The company has a joint venture with Abu Dhabi Ship Building to provide naval support in the Gulf and recently delivered 10 RG12 armoured personnel carriers to Dubai Police.

BAE has been trying to improve its image in the Gulf after battling corruption issues in the 1980s and 1990s.

The company has distanced itself from an investigation into a £43 billion (Dh256.2bn) contract signed in 1985 to supply more than 100 fighter jets to Saudi Arabia that resulted in BAE agreeing to pay damages of £286 million to the US and UK last year.

The RG12 armoured vehicles were on display at Idex, manned by Dubai Police officers.

Major Gen Mohammed al Mansouri, the director general of protective security and emergency at Dubai Police, said the vehicles were a "valuable and reliable" asset.