Idex 2017: UK’s Hesco hopes to employ UAE war veterans at its Al Ain factory
A British company that makes defensive barriers for the military hopes to employ UAE war veterans in Al Ain.
Leeds-based Hesco said it has won a £20 million (Dh91.1m) contract from the UAE to supply its blast barriers that are already deployed in war zones around the region.
The company is part of a huge UK presence at the Idex defence exhibition, which got under way in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
Hamish Russell, Hesco’s global business development manager, said the company would like to employ veterans as well as people with learning difficulties to help “give something back”.
“This is our third contract here in four years. We chose there [Al Ain] because they are looking to regenerate that area and we are part of that process.”
The Hesco defensive barrier order was the first to be announced by Harriett Baldwin, the UK’s minister for defence procurement, who is leading the British contingent at Idex.
It follows a flurry of official UK government visits to the UAE and wider region in recent months that has included the prime minister Theresa May, the foreign secretary Boris Johnson and the finance minister Philip Hammond.
The planned withdrawal of the UK from the European Union following last year’s Brexit vote has spurred efforts by UK military exporters to increase orders in key markets including the Middle East.
Ms Baldwin said that since the UK took the decision to leave the EU it had “stepped up international engagement rather than step away”.
There are about 100 UK companies exhibiting at Idex, including BAE Systems and Qinetiq.
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Updated: February 19, 2017 04:00 AM