Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 June 2019

Idex provides a vital arena for international co-operation

From the new US military hospital in the UAE to knowledge-transfer initiatives, the exhibition is a key event for the defence industry

Lt Gen Charles Hooper, Director of the Defence Security Cooperation Agency, announced plans for a military hospital in Abu Dhabi at Idex. AFP
Lt Gen Charles Hooper, Director of the Defence Security Cooperation Agency, announced plans for a military hospital in Abu Dhabi at Idex. AFP

Against the backdrop of the International Defence Exhibition and Conference (Idex), taking place in the UAE capital this week, the US has unveiled a bold and inspiring new plan. Lt Gen Charles Hooper, the director of America’s Defence Security Co-operation ­Agency, announced on Sunday that a new joint military hospital is to be built in Abu Dhabi. Modelled on the Landstuhl hospital, which opened in Germany in the 1950s and remains the largest American military medical facility outside the US, the institution will save the lives of American and Emirati troops deployed in the region.

This project will be funded by the UAE and staffed by US medics, but it is much more than a simple joint exercise between two long-standing allies. Designed to provide its invaluable services to members of the armed forces for many years to come, the hospital will also send an important message to the world. In entrusting the UAE with the welfare of its wounded service personnel, America clearly views the nation as a haven of peace and stability in a region fraught with conflict.

It is also but one of the many international defence deals that have been made at Idex this week. On the opening day alone, the UAE Armed Forces signed a total of 33 contracts, worth Dh5 billion. As the defence spending of Arabian Gulf nations is forecast to reach $17 billion by 2023 – a rise of 15 per cent, based on today’s figures – it is clear that Idex has a crucial role to play, cementing foreign alliances and acting as an important venue for trade.

In its 25th year, Idex also forms part of the UAE’s drive to develop a full-fledged defence sector, which is essential to both economic diversification and national security. Take, for example, Emirati companies such as Caracal, which started out as a small arms manufacturer and has rapidly become a major supplier to the UAE Armed Forces and a number of Asian countries. International deals are also important vehicles through which to build knowledge in Arab nations. To this end, the French shipbuilder Naval Group has included plans for technological transfer as part of its recent deals with Egypt. The group’s partnership with Saudi Arabian Military Industries will also enable the nation to build its own warships in the near future. Responding to growing defence spending in Mena countries, Idex has clearly established the UAE as a key player in the defence industry and a secure and transparent arena to do business in.

Updated: February 18, 2019 07:10 PM

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