The spectacular opening ceremony for IDEX (International Defence Exhibition and Conference) took place this morning at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center (ADNEC) grandstand marking the inauguration of the region’s largest tri-service defence show, being held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE.
IDEX 2011 was inaugurated by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President & Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in the presence of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, a number of other Sheikhs, in addition to 66 defence ministers, 64 chiefs of staff, top commanders, VIP guests, dignitaries, diplomats and leaders from the world defence industry.
The day started with the solemn and dignified playing of the UAE National Anthem accompanied by the fly-past of the UAE flag and IDEX flag by two Chinook helicopters, escorted by two Apache and two Blackhawk helicopters. Air force displays including 5 Mirage delta-winged fighter aircrafts and 5 F-16s filled the skies in an exciting display capping off the national anthem.
The tone of the displays shifted to watch a few minutes of video footage featuring the UAE’s land, navy and air force capabilities before revving up again to observe the Presidential guard undertake a live on-water hostage rescue scenario involving Boeing’s CH-47 Chinook helicopter, Sikorsky’s UH 60 Black Hawk helicopter, two of Eurocopter’s AS 550 Fennec helicopters, and two RHIB fast craft. The Presidential guard also presented a CT storming of a single storey building – supported by one Blackhawk and an array of fast assault vehicles.
Following the rescue scenarios, an impressive parade of armored vehicles, tanks and artillery equipment made its way through the mobility track, demonstrating off-road capability and driver precision through the slopes and waters of the track.
A spectacular air and land demonstration followed as 10 professional winged skydiving experts geared up in UAE-flag themed wingsuits flew from 8,000 feet overhead while stunt bikers performed acrobatic stunts on the mobility track below.
An assortment of military bands including the Royal Australian Navy band, the New Zealand Army Band, and the UAE's Military Band played stirring anthems representative of each country’s culture and defence heritage.
Finally, as the UAE military lined up with the flags of all participating nations, and armored vehicles returned to the track, a culminating pyrotechnic display and the performance of the UAE’s Al Fursan Aerobatic Team marked the end of the ceremony.
Following the opening ceremony, Their Highnesses and the other dignitaries undertook a tour of IDEX. Notable highlights from the tour included a visit to the UAE national pavilion. Amongst the 169 UAE exhibitors, Mubadala, Tawazun and their related subsidiaries, housed the largest stands, representative of their continued commitment to the the UAE’s economic diversification.
International firms also caused significant interest during the tour, some of which included IDEX’s largest international exhibitor’s Rheinmetall AG of Germany, Lockheed Martin and L-3 Communications of the USA.
“This opening ceremony has been a truly spectacular display of a wide array of land, air and sea vehicles. The preparation has entailed weeks of diligently rehearsed choreography and logistics and brought together the very best that the Armed Forces has to offer in technical operations and display, with nations both at home and abroad working together to make this happen,” said His Excellency Major General Obaid Al Ketbi, Head of Committees and Spokesman for IDEX 2011. “The remarkable display we have seen here today sets the tone for the 10th edition of IDEX and the inaugural NAVDEX, which we expect to be hugely successful in the coming days both for the exhibitors and visitors to the event, but also for the Abu Dhabi and UAE community as a whole,” He added.
Final numbers for IDEX 2011 confirm 1,060 exhibitors from 53 nations occupying 108,000sqm of space and 32 country pavilions. More than 50,000 visitors including 150 official delegations will attend the event throughout the week, for what is now the largest IDEX that's been held to date since the show's inception in 1993.
First held in 1993, IDEX (International Defence Exhibition & Conference) is the largest tri-service defence exhibition in the Middle East and North Africa region. IDEX takes place biennially under the patronage of HH Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, and is organised by ADNEC (Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company) in association with the UAE Armed Forces GHQ. Defence deals worth a combined 18.5 billion dirhams in contract value were announced by the UAE Armed Forces at the last IDEX in 2009.
IDEX 2011 marks the show’s 10th anniversary and will take place 20th – 24th February next year encompassing indoor, outdoor and marine exhibit areas at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. New for 2011 will be the launch of NAVDEX the Middle East’s premier exhibition dedicated to the naval defence and coastal security sector, which will run in parallel with IDEX 2011. For more information go to: www.idexuae.ae .