x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Retired general still goes in to bat for nation's defence

Since his retirement in 2006, Major Gen Khalid al Buainnain has focused much of his energy on building up Baynuna Group, his holding company.

Since his retirement in 2006, Major Gen Khalid al Buainnain has focused much of his energy on building up Baynuna Group, his holding company. The firm has partnered with a number of foreign aerospace and technology companies interested in doing business in the UAE, in particular French companies that have ongoing spare parts and support work with the UAE Air Force's fleet of Mirage jets.

In accordance with local ownership laws, Baynuna has often taken 51 per cent stakes in these ventures, with the foreign company holding 49 per cent. This is the case with Thalbat, a partnership between Thales and Baynuna Aviation Technology, a unit of the Baynuna Group. The names of other joint ventures follow a similar pattern, including Eltbat, Dasbat, Sagembat and Snecbat. The creation of these partnerships began shortly after Major Gen al Buainnain's retirement from the UAE Air Force and Air Defence. When one defence company asked him to become a consultant, he declined because it was against government policy. Instead, government authorities granted him the option to form joint ventures with these aerospace companies in ways that would help build the country's expertise in advanced technology.

When Baynuna created a joint venture with MBDA, the European missile manufacturer, technology transfer was touted as a primary benefit. "The scope of co-operation is very large. It covers all areas of missile technology and integration, with the objective to develop capabilities locally," said Antoine Bouvier, the chief executive of MBDA, when the deal was announced at the IDEX 2009 arms fair in Abu Dhabi.

Although aerospace has been a main focus, Baynuna has pursued other fields. In 2007, it held talks with an Abu Dhabi investment agency on a proposal to import electric vehicles produced by Dassault of France. More recently, following the UAE's US$20 billion (Dh73.54bn) commitment to build nuclear reactors, the firm set up its Baynuna Nuclear Energy Services subsidiary, which describes its mission as providing services including nuclear safety analysis, reactor water cleanup and in-service inspection of reactors.

igale@thenational.ae