DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates is making a push to develop high-tech military hardware that would give it control over critical defence capabilities and lessen reliance on imports.
Wary of threats from rival Iran, and concerned over moves by some allies to hold up arms sales, the UAE is reshaping a military industry already seen as the region’s most sophisticated.
State defence companies have been brought together to form EDGE, a $5-billion conglomerate to spearhead development of advanced weapons for the country’s military.
Those ambitions were put on display at this week’s Dubai Airshow where the military handed an EDGE company a $1 billion contract for guided missiles.
“Like many countries, on specific critical capabilities you want to have sovereignty,” EDGE Chief Executive Faisal al-Bannai told Reuters.
The UAE’s defence industry dates back two decades, built through joint ventures and technology transfer programmes.
Much of it now sits under EDGE, manufacturing drones, small ammunitions and providing maintenance.
Abdulla al-Hashimi, assistant undersecretary for support services at the UAE Ministry of Defence, said sovereign capabilities were a “necessity” for security and the economy.