LONDON: UK Defence Procurement Minister Jeremy Quin officially opened the largest defense and security trade show in the world in London on Tuesday afternoon.
Quin said the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) trade fair would “showcase Britain to the world”.
There was tightened security surrounding the Excel Centre where the exhibition is taking place amid fears protestors would disrupt the event.
A small group of activists who had gained access to the event set off smoke flares inside the exhibition hall, but the incident was quickly dealt with by security and most attendees were unaware a protest had taken place.
Meanwhile, protestors gathered outside the venue in the late morning and attempted to block roads to the Excel.
DSEI, which takes place with the support of the UK government, is about 70 percent the size originally planned, largely because Covid-19 travel restrictions.
At around 850, the number of named exhibitors — which includes Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI) and Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) — is roughly half the number that participated the last time the event was held in 2019.
In August, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said DSEI organisers should “reconsider” holding the fair this year.
The police operation for the 2019 event cost £2.4million.
The opening ceremony was scheduled to include an RAF Red Arrows flypast this afternoon.
The value of the UK's arms trade with Saudi Arabia since 2015 is £6.7 billion, according to figures released by British ministers in July 2021.
In another development, the United Kingdom confirmed today its participation through an international pavilion at the World Defense Show, the leading global event for defense and security organized by the General Authority for Military Industries in Riyadh in March 2022.
The UK appointed "ADS Group", the industrial body representing the companies of the aerospace, defense, security and space industries in the UK, to operate its pavilion in the show.
In addition to the UK, other major economies announcing taking part in the event include the USA, China, France, Spain, Italy, Estonia, Bulgaria, Portugal, South Korea and Ukraine.
The announcement was made on the sidelines of the World Defense Show within the Saudi pavilion at DSEI, with the aim of informing international companies about the advantages of participating in the first edition of the World Defense Show that will be held in Riyadh between March 6-9, 2022.