The biggest arms show in the Middle East – IDEX 2009 - was held last week in Abu Dhabi. Judging from the agreements signed during the event, which takes place once every two years, signs of the global recession were not evident there.
The hosting United Arab Emirates country was the most dominant during the military exhibition, with orders worth close to $4 billion in one day. The UAE air force struck two major deals that day for the purchase of military cargo planes from the Boeing and Lockheed Martin aerospace manufacturers.
The UAE army also announced that it would be signing an agreement with a German company for the establishment of a training center for its infantry corps. The deal was estimated at some $125 million.
A day before, UAE businessmen struck deals worth some $800 million.
Examining goods in Abu Dhabi (Photo: AFP)
This year the exhibition grounds were doubled compared to 2007, with the main attraction being the addition of flight paths for fighter jets.
At least 900 representatives from some 50 countries took part in the event and presented their merchandise. Russia, for example, presented its advanced assault submarine, which is called "black hole in the ocean".
The deals were struck despite the fact that the UAE, like all other Persian Gulf states, is suffering from a sharp decline in its revenues due to the reduced oil prices in the world's markets.
The exhibition's spokesman, General Abid alKatabi, rejected estimates that the global crisis would lower the expenditures on military purchases, particularly on the part of the oil states.
"This year's IDEX will be bigger than its predecessors," he stated, adding "I do not expect a drop in the volume of deals due to the global crisis."
This year's show also focused on security systems and the war on terror. The UAE's Critical National Infrastructural Authority (CNIA) signed a $125 million agreement with a local company for the purchase of fast intervention boats in order to protect Abu Dhabi's oil and fuel fields.
Doron Peskin is head of research at Info-Prod Research (Middle East) Ltd.