Sales at the IDEX arms show in Abu Dhabi have been brisk as in total about $2.7 billion in defence contracts have been signed by a number of different countries.
The International Defence Exhibition or IDEX is the largest arms exhibition in the Middle East. For the past several years the exhibition has been held in the capital of the UAE Abu Dhabi. Sheikh Khalifa Al Nahyan who is President of the UAE and also Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed forces is benefactor of the show.
The UAE expenditure of $1.4 billion includes drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV's)The largest deals, which were announced on Tuesday February 19, were for 750 mine-resistant, ambush-protected, all-terrain vehicles from Oshkosh Corp worth $380 million.
The number of drones purchased was not announced. The unarmed Predator drones were bought from the privately-owned US firm, General Atomics, and had a price tag of $197 million. The drones are said to be designed so that armaments cannot be added. This is the first sale of the unarmed drones by General Atomics in the Middle East. The UAE awarded the contract to buy the drones to a local group International Golden Group for the purchase from the US firm. Major General Obeid al-Ketbi told reporters: "UAVs are significant for any armed forces in present times. There is a lot of demand for these,"
According to Wikileaks cables the UAE and Saudi Arabia had asked the US to sell them armed drones but the US has always refused. The US claims that it is committed to an international agreement to limit the spread of long range precision weapons and this would include drone exports. The unarmed Predator approved for export has no "hard points" where missiles could be attached and is said to be engineered so that adding weaponry would be impossible according to General Atomics.
General Ketbi also said that the contracts included a $117.2 million deal with US firm Raytheon for materials used in the GBU12 as well as GBU58 bombs. The total number of deals signed as of Tuesday came to $2.76 billion.
The UAE is a federation of seven emirates, each ruled by a hereditary emir. The emirs choose a president of the UAE from among their memgers. The following belong to the UAE: Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras-al-Khaima, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwain. Abu Dhabi, where IDEX took place, is the capital.