x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Dh12m of guns sold at Abu Dhabi expo

Most of the 1,016 weapons sold at the capital's International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition went to shooting clubs.

A young boy looks at a gun on display at the Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian exhibtion.
A young boy looks at a gun on display at the Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian exhibtion.

ABU DHABI // More than Dh12 million worth of firearms were sold at the Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition, police said.

Despite the popularity of weapons, rules for obtaining a gun are strict and limited to those who pass stringent security checks. "No firearm licence is given unless it is ensured that the individual is qualified to own a weapon and the background security check comes back clear," said Col Humaid al Afreet, director of the Firearms and Explosives Department at Abu Dhabi Police Directorate General of Security and Outlets Affairs.

According to the police, 1,016 weapons were sold, worth Dh12.3m. Most of them were bought by shooting clubs, police said. Organisers of Adihex, which ended on September 25, will release a full report by next Sunday that will include a breakdown of sales in comparison with the previous year. All firearms must be registered with the police, and the permits renewed annually. "Only Emiratis and GCC state nationals are allowed to buy and register weapons here," Col al Afreet said. "Expats are not allowed to own weapons."

Also ineligible for licences are people younger than 25 and anyone with a criminal record. It is illegal to carry firearms in public. All of a firearm's specifications are documented by the police forensics team upon registration. Initial approval comes from the emirate, and the final word comes from the UAE's central state security apparatus. Saif Mane al Shamsy, 42, said he owned too many guns to count. But Mr al Shamsy has a good reason: he is the UAE's reigning skeet, trap and double trap shooting champion, and a former world, Arab and Asia champion who manages the Palm Sports Resort's shooting club in Al Ain.

"Adihex is known as the main venue to purchase firearms in the region," Mr al Shamsy said. "There are several shooting clubs in the UAE, and Adihex is the place to be for those who want to buy a firearm." A pamphlet distributed by police at the exhibition laid out the rules for registering firearms as well as safety tips for cleaning and handling them. Owners should ensure the weapons are not left loaded, and must keep them locked up.

"Guns have been part of Arab culture since they were invented. Gun ownership is our right," said Mubarak al Ariani, 34, administrative manager at the Palm Sports Resort. Getting a permit takes about two months and renewal costs Dh50.