x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Rules to ensure public can touch but not shoot

Strict security rules at Adihex ensure that gun and knife enthusiasts can get close to the models on display with no compromise on safety.

Ghanem Al Fandi Mazroui holds a rifle at his father’s company’s booth, MP3 International. Youngsters are allowed to handle the weapons but cannot buy them.
Ghanem Al Fandi Mazroui holds a rifle at his father’s company’s booth, MP3 International. Youngsters are allowed to handle the weapons but cannot buy them.

ABU DHABI // Exhibitions can be noisy events but one sound visitors won't hear at the Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition this weekend is gunfire.

Live ammunition is banned, and the weaponry section is under tight security to keep it that way.

Before visitors can even set foot in the area they must pass through at least two checkpoints and have their bags scanned.

And most of the firearms are protected behind glass cases or are tethered to their stands.

"This is a totally controlled environment," said Saeed Aleghfeli, the projects manager of International Golden Group in Abu Dhabi, a supplier of integrated defence systems.

"It is very, very, very safe. It's like a car without petrol. If there is no ammunition, it cannot be fired."

There are only two entrances and exits to the Adihex weaponry section, the area of the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (Adnec) that houses more than a dozen weapons suppliers, manufacturers and dealers. Those points of entry are monitored at all hours by several guards.

Exhibitors can also choose to have closed circuit televisions focused specifically on their booths to increase security.

At the stall of MP3 International, a UAE supplier of arms and weapons throughout the Gulf, the more than 200 variations of rifles and pistols are monitored by a computerised inventory system. Every 90 minutes, the system updates staff with data on how many weapons have been purchased, are in storage and are on display.

The Adihex 2011 exhibitor manual outlines rules and regulations for the exhibition, including safety requirements. "No loose weapons on the stand or counters" are allowed, and all weapons must be "permanently tethered".

Each weapon is also required to have a trigger lock.

While nearly all of the handguns and large rifles on display at Adihex are secured to their display cases with steel ties, almost none had obvious trigger locks. Several exhibitors said trigger locks were unnecessary and no one from Adihex or the police had told them they were required.

The exhibition manual says failure to comply with the safety rules will result in confiscation of the weapon.

"There is no need for a trigger lock, because it is safe," said Ahmed Kamal, the office manager for MP3 International. "There is no ammunition, so it cannot be shot."

Mr Kamal and Mr Aleghfeli said part of the appeal of Adihex was that visitors are allowed to handle the weapons before they decide to purchase. Gauging the weight and selecting a preferred style are difficult when the guns are attached to the wall or stand, they said.

Most of the gun anchors are intended to protect the guns from being dropped by curious patrons, Mr Aleghfeli said.

Outside the designated weaponry area, knives are not subject to any restrictions.

Mohammed Amiri, who runs Tamreen Sports in the capital, said he was not required to put any specific safety procedures into place at his stand of high-end knives, but he implemented his own set of rules.

"We want to take our own precautions, and we believe it is our social responsibility to make sure everything is safe," said Mr Amiri, who added that he would not sell to anyone younger than 18 years old.

"Knives are everywhere, and we know that kids can get them if they want them, but we don't want to be the ones to give the weapons to teenagers or kids."

Abu Dhabi Police and Adihex organisers were not available for comment yesterday. The four-day exhibition concludes tomorrow.

jthomas@thenational.ae