x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

50 US defence companies visiting UAE

The tour of the nation's military facilities is meant to boost investment as budget deficits force companies to scale back defence spending.

ABU DHABI // More than 50 American defence and aerospace companies are touring UAE military facilities.

"This is a critical time for our companies abroad, as the US defence budget continues to face pressure at home," said Lawrence Farrell, a retired lieutenant general who is the president and chief executive of the National Defense Industrial Association, which represents US defence companies. The mission is a "tremendous opportunity" for American companies, as the defence relationship with the UAE continues to grow, he said.

Many Western powers are trying to curb defence spending to rein in budget deficits, and the US is scaling back operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The US-UAE Business Council expects defence spending by the UAE to increase during the next few years. Though expenditures by the Government declined in 2009, arms experts say that was likely the result of a lull after major weapons acquisitions that took place in 2008.

The UAE is trying to encourage American subcontractors to set up shop in the Emirates as part of an effort to create an indigenous defence industry. Sheikha Lubna al Qasimi, the minister of foreign trade, will address members of the US delegation, as well as UAE military and aerospace officials, today at the Emirates Palace hotel. kshaheen@thenational.ae