x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Defence industry gears up in Tawazun

Tawazun Industrial Park is being set up to become home to the UAE's fledgling defence industry.

Abu Dhabi - February 25, 2009: Men look at pistols at the Caracal stand during the International Defence Exhibition and Conference 2009 (IDEX) at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. Gunmaker Caracal is located in Tawazun Industrial Park. ( Philip Cheung / The National ) *** Local Caption *** PC0150-IDEX.jpgPC0150-IDEX.jpg
Abu Dhabi - February 25, 2009: Men look at pistols at the Caracal stand during the International Defence Exhibition and Conference 2009 (IDEX) at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. Gunmaker Caracal is located in Tawazun Industrial Park. ( Philip Cheung / The National ) *** Local Caption *** PC0150-IDEX.jpgPC0150-IDEX.jpg

The UAE's newest industrial zone aiming to diversify the economy is being developed in the Abu Dhabi desert with a focus on creating an indigenous defence industry.

Tawazun Holding has begun marketing its Tawazun Industrial Park, located at Zayed Military City, which will become home to advanced, precision industries such as autonomous systems, armoured vehicles and guided rockets.

The project is linked to the country's offsets system, which seeks to leverage the military's huge arms purchases and encourage foreign companies to transfer technology and set up local manufacturing.

"Tawazun Industrial Park has been set up to create a 'knowledge hub' for defence and precision manufacturing in Abu Dhabi," announced the holding company, which is a subsidiary of the UAE Offset Program Bureau. "It reflects Abu Dhabi's long-term ambitions to develop specialist areas of expertise in key industries."

Artistic impressions show a master-planned community with modern warehouse and factory buildings, along with residential and commercial office space. Tawazun is expected to announce further details of the industrial park next week during the International Defence Exhibition and Conference beginning on Sunday in Abu Dhabi.

Already, anchor tenants at the zone include Caracal, a gun maker, and Burkan Munitions Systems, which manufactures aircraft bombs, artillery, naval rounds and small arms ammunition.

The zone is also home to Tawazun Precision Industries, a high-end machining firm that has secured contracts with Airbus. Last year Tawazun said an unnamed joint venture would also soon be formed at the park to build an ammunition plant for 9mm, 5.56mm and 7.62mm bullets.

The UAE is one of the world's largest arms buyers and has requirements for suppliers to help contribute to the local economy through projects including joint ventures such as Burkan, which was a partnership between Al Jaber Group of the UAE and Germany's Rheinmetall Munitions.

Matar al Romaithi, the director of the industrial development unit at the offset agency, said the UAE's ambitions for a local defence industry were focused on land and naval systems; munitions and weapons, aeronautics systems, advanced and precision machining, and autonomous systems.

Within these industries, the capabilities that the UAE was looking to acquire, Mr al Romaithi said, included expertise in design, engineering, systems integration, manufacturing and testing, programme management as well as maintenance and repair.

The UAE's seven emirates have all pursued industrial zones to attract foreign investment and cluster together companies within similar industries.

In the capital, Mubadala Development, a strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government, and Abu Dhabi Airports Company are building an aerospace cluster in Al Ain that should create 10,000 direct and indirect jobs over the next 10 years, and already is home to a composite aircraft parts company, Strata.

By 2013 the zone should receive its second anchor tenant, the Advanced Military Maintenance Repair and Overhaul Centre, specialising in military aircraft maintenance.

igale@thenational.ae