For U.S. Defense Industry, Many Opportunities in the Middle East

Article excerpt

Industry analysts for some time have forecast a growing defense market in the Middle East. Countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council, particularly, are gaining financial muscle, and they are seeking to beef up their militaries with modern technology. Their interest in modernizing their weapon systems is partly fueled by concerns about Iran's rising clout in the region.

In early October, NDIA led a trade mission to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a country that is expected to make significant investments in military platforms and weapons over the coming years.

NDIA partnered with the U. S. -UAE Business Council (http:// www.usuaebusiness.org) led by its president, Danny E. Sebright, who is also vice president of The Cohen Group. The council is the leading advocate for building commercial relationships and expanding business opportunities between the two countries.

The mission also was supported by the UAE Embassy in Washington, D. G, led by Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba, the Department of Commerce, the U.S. Embassy in the UAE and the U.S. Commercial Service detachment.

Significant business opportunities for U.S. defense contractors were discovered throughout the visit, even for companies who were already doing business in the UAE.

The mission kicked off with a welcome reception that was addressed by Sheikha Lubna, the UAE 's minister of foreign trade. Successive sessions throughout the week outlined the "hows" of doing business in the UAE and presentations by local companies that are seeking corporate partners.

The UAE has developed an economic plan through 2030 that forms the basis for economic development. The basic objective for the Emirates is to move the economy away from today's reliance on oil. Currently, 60 percent of national income comes from energy exports. By 2030, the country aims to reduce that figure to 40 percent.

In subsequent years, dependence on energy exports will continue to decline as economic development spins off value-added businesses in disparate economic sectors - maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO), technical services, information technology, security and infrastructure protection (big emphasis on ports and critical energy assets), sensors, shipbuilding, unmanned systems, firearms production, munitions production, healthcare, security services, vehicle production, shooting ranges, operational training, workshop management, supplies and supply chains, testing, systems integration, systems upgrade, manufacturing, services, and education.

The UAE recognizes that its energy resources have a limited run, even if they are expected to last for another 70 to 100 years. …