Idex 2019: How an Emirati small arms firm went global
Caracal's weapons are built to withstand the pressures of heat, dust and sand
It started out as a small arms manufacturer, supplying 9mm pistols for UAE law enforcement and hunting rifles for civilians.
Today, Caracal, now a subsidiary of Emirates Defence Industries Company, has become an altogether different force - and one generating hundreds of jobs for Emiratis.
The company - a major retailer around the globe - recently signed weapons deals with Malaysia, India and South Korea.
It is also already supplying the German military with firearms, taking the group’s overseas sales to more than 25 per cent of its total.
“Our products have been well received by the international community and we’re very proud of our international presence in Germany, USA, and Algeria," said Hamad Al Ameri, business development director at EDIC.
Caracal, which takes its name from the desert hunting cat, was established in 2007 and developed a strong reputation for producing side arms, close combat assault weapons and sniper rifles.
Headquartered in Abu Dhabi, it soon became the region’s leading small arms company, producing quality products to internationally recognised standards.
In 2015 it was acquired by EDIC as part of a drive to combine the UAE’s defence industries into a single organisation.
The merger, which included a number of other defence manufacturers, took EDIC’s payroll in the UAE close to 5,000 employees.
Today, EDIC Caracal’s portfolio includes combat pistols, a 9mm submachine gun, three tactical rifle platforms and varying sniper rifles.
At the company’s core is its immense pride in being a wholly Emirati entity – its weapons being almost entirely built and even designed by UAE nationals.
“It’s been a challenge but we succeeded and we couldn’t be more proud,” said Mr Al Ameri.
“We’ve fused systems that have been around for 30 years and improved them. Quality, durability, price - these are the reasons our products are superior.
“We’ve produced the best designs with a durability that can survive our weather, considered one of the harshest in the world.”
Hamda Al Falasi, a senior procurement officer at the company, perhaps best exemplifies the firm’s enormous pride in its work.
The 32-year-old, who joined the firm in 2013, commutes for more than two hours a day to the UAE’s capital.
“I first heard about the job from a friend and when I applied I didn’t even know the company was in the defence sector,” she said.
“What amazed me was that everything was made in the UAE – that really caught my attention.
“It still gives me such a huge sense of pride. I am not just saying this, but I love it.”
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Naser Al Omaira, 46, joined EDIC Caracal to manage its special projects department, where he has been working for almost six years.
He described realising he had a passion for weapons from a very early age, due in part to the tradition of hunting birds such as the Houbara bustard in the UAE.
“I joined Caracal because I’m passionate about design and weapons,” said Mr Al Omaira.
“Hunting is part of our culture. We were taught how to hunt as we were brought up and ever since I was little I’ve always enjoyed inventing things.
“Designing something and then seeing it come to life is a passion. Any designer will tell you that. And through Caracal I was able to achieve this.”
“I have no favourite weapon here but I suppose lean towards the sniper rifles because of the challenges involved in acquiring and hitting long distance targets.
“With all our products, we try to design them slightly different so they can withstand harsh environments and that’s why they’re a little superior.”
Among Caracal’s products is its 9mm semi-automatic pistol, carrying a high-capacity 18 round magazine.
It also manufacturers three sniper rifles, including the CSR 308, a manually operated bolt action weapon made from “aerospace grade aluminium”. It uses a 7.62mm round.
“There is a huge industrial revolution happening in the UAE and today we have raw materials that we could never have dreamed of a few years back,” said Mr Al Ameri.
“We can produce everything here.”
Updated: February 18, 2019 05:03 PM