UAE signs $2.58 billion worth of defence deals in 2 days

Published February 24th, 2015 - 08:48 GMT

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has signed a combined Dh9.48 billion ($2.58 billion) of defence deals on the first two days of the International Defence Exhibition and Conference (Idex 2015), currently under way in Abu Dhabi.

European companies Airbus and Thales today signed a Dh3.745 billion ($1 billion) deal with the UAE for  two satellites and their land control stations, according to Obadi Al-Ketbi, chairman of Idex's organising committee.

This spending comes when a declining oil price has put pressure on government spending across the Gulf region, but also when authorities are facing regional political instability in Iraq and Syria. The UAE is one of the nations undertaking bombing runs against Islamic State targets.

In total, around Dh6 billion of defence contracts went to UAE-based companies, which included for ships, maintenance and spare part contracts.

Abu Dhabi's Al Taif Technical Services won a contract worth Dh2.4 billion for maintenance of defence-related equipment and Nimr Automotive, part of the newly-formed Emirates Defence Industries Company, won a Dh1.2 billion contract for 500 armoured vehicles.

Meanwhile, the UAE is still in talks with both BAE Systems and Dassault Aviation over the possible multi-billion-dollar purchase of fighter jets, he said.

Al-Ketbi was asked if there was any progress since the previous event in 2013 on talks with both companies.
"Talks are still going on, no update," Al-Ketbi told reporters at a media event on the sidelines of the conference.

Negotiations over fighter jets between the UAE and Western defence firms have been long and tumultuous, with talks going on with various degrees of seriousness for years.

A source told Reuters last week that the French firm had resumed discussions with the Gulf state over sales of Rafales.

Dassault was publicly rebuffed in December 2011 over a deal to buy 60 of the multi-role combat jets by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, also deputy supreme commander of the UAE armed forces, who called Dassault's terms "uncompetitive and unworkable".

Meanwhile, a $9.8 billion deal for 60 Eurofighter Typhoon jets was declared dead in December 2013 by BAE.

Western defence contractors are chasing overseas sales to keep production lines moving when domestic budgets are being cut.

Idex 2015, being held at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, will conclude on Feb 26.

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