ABU DHABI: K. T. ABDURABB
Published — Monday 18 February 2013
Last update 18 February 2013 5:02 am
Italian Defense Minister Giampaolo Di Paolo stressed Italy’s readiness to support the region’s drive to acquire technology in industry and other sectors while speaking at the opening of biennial International Defense Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) in Abu Dhabi.
The event has a special focus on naval defense and unmanned aerial systems.
The event hosts around 1,112 exhibiting companies from 59 countries and expects over 70 defense ministers from different countries among its attendees.
UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum and Gen. Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy supreme commander of the UAE Armed Forces, participated in the inaugural ceremony with other crown princes, ministers, and top officials from different states in the region.
Exhibitors include Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other Arab countries besides major weapons producers as the US, Russia, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, China, the Netherlands, Spain, Turkey, Canada, Brazil, South Africa, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Saudi Arabia’s Armored Vehicles & Heavy Equipment Factory (AVF), a company affiliated to Military Industries Corporation in Saudi Arabia that manufactures different types of armored vehicles, is participating in the event.
In addition, Al-Ghuroub Group, Al-Wafa International Co. and Jadwalean Int-Oper & Mgt Companies also are among the Saudi participants.
Vessels from the US, Italy, France, the UK and Pakistan and three ships from the UAE are participating in the Naval Defense Exhibition (Navdex), which will run through Thursday.
The Italian defense minister said his country maintained strong ties with Gulf countries and supported all initiatives by local companies to expand cooperation with the UAE and the other Gulf countries.
“We are very satisfied with the cooperation with the UAE in the defense sector. There is definitely room for improvement in the industrial, as well as in the technical/operational, and technical/capability sectors,” he said.
Italy has a strong presence in the exhibition and they have displayed Fincantieri ships, notably an Abu Dhabi class Corvette and a patrol ship offered to the Emirates Navy.
French Minister of Defense Jean-Yves Le Drian said IDEX was now the largest defense and security exhibition in the MENA region. In a statement, the minister also highlighted the French Army’s participation, which included a display of its “Soldier of the future latest technologies” in the fields of spatial communication and tactical equipment, along with a demonstration of major French Armed Forces combat vehicles.
Around 70 French companies, including independent pavilions are participating at both IDEX, and the Navdex. The US, the biggest exhibitor, is represented by over 180 firms.
The UAE has 144 companies on the ground while Germany and China are present with 69 and 25 firms respectively.
Lt. Gen. Andre Blattmann, chief of Swiss Armed Forces, said Swiss participation in IDEX had increased from 18 exhibitors in 2011 to around 30 this year.
The opening ceremony commenced with the playing of the UAE National Anthem, followed by a performance from the Fijian military veterans troupe titled “War Spears Dance” and “Fan Dance” and a Japanese group show titled “Strike terror into the hearts of enemies.”
The main feature of the opening ceremony was a spectacular show of power in which the land, air and naval forces of the UAE demonstrated their professional skills in front of a large number of guests from Arab and friendly countries. Organizers say they expect more than 60,000 visitors during the next five days.
Data by the organizers showed IDEX 2011 attracted 1,060 exhibitors from 52 countries and nearly 60,000 military delegates and other visitors.