UAE seeks to boost its high-tech military industry

The UAE is reshaping a military industry already seen as the region’s most sophisticated. (AFP/File photo)
Updated 22 November 2019

UAE seeks to boost its high-tech military industry

  • The UAE is reshaping a military industry already seen as the region’s most sophisticated
  • The UAE’s defence industry dates back two decades

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.


Lebanese block roads as protests enter fourth month

Updated 44 min 49 sec ago

Lebanese block roads as protests enter fourth month

  • The protest movement rocking Lebanon since October 17
  • The protest movement is in part fueled by the worst economic crisis

BEIRUT: Protesters blocked several main roads across Lebanon on Friday as unprecedented demonstrations against a political elite accused of corruption and incompetence entered their fourth month.
The protest movement rocking Lebanon since October 17 has resurged this week, over delays in forming a new cabinet to address the country’s growing economic crisis.
No progress seemed to have been made on a final lineup, which protesters demand be made up solely of independent experts and empty of traditional political parties.
In central Beirut, dozens of protesters Friday stood between parked cars blocking a key thoroughfare linking the city’s east and west.
“We blocked the road with cars because it’s something they can’t move,” Marwan Karam said.
The protester condemned what he regarded as efforts to form yet another government representing the usual carve-up of power between the traditional parties.
“We don’t want a government of masked political figures,” the 30-year-old told AFP. “Any such government will fall. We won’t give it any chance in the street.”
Forming a new cabinet is often a drawn-out process in Lebanon, where a complex system seeks to maintain balance between the various political parties and a multitude of religious confessions.
Nearby, Carlos Yammine, 32, said he did not want yet another “cake-sharing government.”
“What we have asked for from the start of the movement is a reduced, transitional, emergency government of independents,” he said, leaning against his car.


Elsewhere, demonstrators closed roads including in Lebanon’s second city of Tripoli, though some were later reopened, the National News Agency said.
The protest movement is in part fueled by the worst economic crisis that Lebanon has witnessed since its 1975-1990 civil war.
The protests this week saw angry demonstrators attack banks following the imposition of sharp curbs on cash withdrawals to stem a liquidity crisis.
On Thursday night, protesters vandalized three more banks in the capital’s Hamra district, smashing their glass fronts and graffitiing ATMs, an AFP photographer said.
Earlier, Lebanon’s security services released most of the 100-plus protesters detained over the previous 48 hours, lawyers said.
Human Rights Watch on Friday condemned the arrests and the response of security forces to protests outside a police station on Wednesday night demanding detainees be released.
“The unacceptable level of violence against overwhelmingly peaceful protesters on January 15 calls for a swift independent and transparent investigation,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at the rights watchdog.
Over the past few months, the Lebanese pound — long pegged to the US dollar at 1,507 — has fallen in value on the unofficial market to around 2,500.
The World Bank has warned that the poverty rate in Lebanon could rise from a third to a half if the political crisis is not remedied fast.