Abri du Plessis – Chief Executive Officer, NIMR to «ALJUNDI»: We look forward to boosting our alliances & developing attractive products

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Armed with a distinguished experience in suiting regional conditions‭, ‬NIMR‭, ‬which is a subsidiary of EDGE group’s Platforms and‭ ‬Systems department‭, ‬has risen to become a pioneer in the field of high-performance light and medium-wheeled military vehicles‭, ‬and to get to know the company’s fields of work and prominent projects better‭, ‬“Al-Jundi”‭ ‬interviewed‭ ‬“Abri du Plessis”‭, ‬CEO of‭ ‬“NIMR”‭ ‬and had the following dialogue with him‭:‬

Talk to us about NIMR and its fields of work in general‭.‬

NIMR is the UAE’s leading armored vehicle manufacturer with a strong presence in the GCC and MENA regions‭. ‬The company has come a long way since‭ ‬commencing operations with our first vehicle‭, ‬NIMR1‭, ‬in 2000‭. ‬Since then‭, ‬the company has grown from strength to strength‭, ‬with‭ ‬our vehicles building a global reputation for their agility‭, ‬reliability‭, ‬and versatility‭.‬

Today‭, ‬NIMR has an extensive portfolio of mission-proven military vehicles capable of addressing the most demanding duty-cycle requirements‭. ‬We are currently delivering several significant projects that reinforce our position as the leading manufacturer of‭ ‬combat-proven armored vehicles with complete in-house design and production capabilities for a variety of platforms to meet a diverse range of user requirements‭.‬‮   ‬

To meet the increasing demand for military vehicles in the region and across the world‭, ‬NIMR operates a 37,500m2‭ ‬production facility in Abu Dhabi‭, ‬which is the largest military vehicle manufacturer in the region and competes with the largest international‭ ‬producers‭.‬

The company has pioneered many firsts in the region in an eventful two decades‭, ‬and we look forward to building on our success and pursuing new avenues of growth‭.‬

How important is the UAE and GCC market to NIMR‭?‬

NIMR was established over 20‭ ‬years ago as a strategic asset to the UAE‭. ‬Our core priority is to build the nation’s sovereign capabilities and ensure that our primary customer‭, ‬the UAE Armed Forces‭, ‬is equipped with state-of-the-art armored vehicles that meet their operational needs‭. ‬We have built a strong alliance with our partners in the Ministry of Defence‭, ‬and we‭ ‬have learned some valuable lessons throughout the years that have helped us improve the usability and functionality of our products‭.‬‮  ‬

Similarly‭, ‬in Saudi Arabia‭, ‬we have built a strong strategic relationship with SAMI‭, ‬culminating in the manufacturing license agreement signed during the inaugural World Defense Show held in Riyadh in March 2022‭. ‬The agreement mandates NIMR to provide technology transfer for the manufacturing of the JAIS 4×4‭ ‬vehicle in Saudi Arabia and to support further development of SAMI’s supply chain and manufacturing capabilities to ultimately enable local production‭.‬

The landmark deal represents the first military-industrial collaboration between UAE and Saudi Arabia and catalyzes further cooperation between the two countries‭.‬

The GCC region is a huge market and therefore holds important potential and opportunity for us‭. ‬We look forward to boosting our‭ ‬alliances in the region and continuing to develop products that are competitive and attractive in the international market‭.‬

What products is NIMR offering in the UAE and Gulf region‭?‬

Our AJBAN family of vehicles is designed for use in a wide range of specialist military roles‭. ‬They offer high levels of survivability‭, ‬mobility‭, ‬and firepower‭.‬

Launched in 2021‭, ‬the AJBAN Mk2‭ ‬is a second-generation vehicle designed for functions such as tactical response‭, ‬border patrol‭, ‬reconnaissance‭, ‬counterinsurgency‭, ‬and special forces operations‭. ‬The range also comprises AJBAN 420‭, ‬AJBAN 440‭, ‬AJBAN 450‭, ‬AJBAN Long-Range Special Operations Vehicle‭ (‬LRSOV‭), ‬and AJBAN Internal Security Vehicle‭ (‬ISV‭).‬

On a related note‭, ‬the HAFEET class armoured vehicle provides a multi-purpose platform for all military requirements‭, ‬from utility vehicles to fully protected patrol vehicles‭. ‬A universal 6×6‭ ‬chassis is utilized for a common logistic footprint to minimize‭ ‬the burden of training‭, ‬maintenance‭, ‬and spare parts management for the user‭. ‬

Also launched in 2021‭, ‬the HAFEET Mk2‭ ‬offers an optimal combination of payload‭, ‬mobility‭, ‬and protection in the harshest environments and it can be integrated with a variety of mission and weapon systems‭.‬

The first generation of these vehicles has gone through extensive usage with the armed forces over the past 20‭ ‬years‭, ‬and we have learned some very important lessons about certain aspects that could be improved in terms of reliability‭, ‬desirability‭, ‬and usability‭. ‬

We have taken all of this into account when developing the second generation of our vehicles and we are immensely proud to now offer best-in-class platforms that can compete on a global level‭.‬

Finally yet importantly‭, ‬the JAIS class is the next generation of mine-resistant ambush-protected‭ (‬MRAP‭) ‬vehicles that strike the right balance between firepower‭, ‬survivability‭, ‬and mobility for modern‭, ‬conventional‭, ‬and asymmetric operations‭.‬

The vehicle has a battle-proven‭ ‬‘crew citadel’‭ ,‬which protects against mine‭, ‬improvised explosive devices‭ (‬IEDs‭), ‬and ballistic threats‭. ‬

The JAIS 4×4‭ ‬is another one of NIMR’s‭ ‬‘hero’‭ ‬products‭, ‬selected by SAMI as their vehicle of choice following extensive trials‭.‬

NIMR offers complete end-to-end solutions including various mission system integration and thorough life support for both armored and soft-skinned vehicle platforms‭.‬

The UAE has been diligent in urging companies to prioritize the issue of localization‭. ‬What has NIMR done in this regard‭?‬

The UAE has a clear vision of transitioning to a knowledge-based economy and becoming an exporter of technology to ensure long-term prosperity for current and future generations‭. ‬As a nation‭, ‬the UAE is renowned for its ambition‭, ‬vision‭, ‬and prioritization‭ ‬of technology‭.‬‮ ‬

Developing sovereign defense products and solutions is one of NIMR’s primary objectives‭, ‬and we are taking every step to ensure that our UAE-made products have great export potential on the regional and global levels‭. ‬

NIMR’s vision is aligned with that of the nation‭, ‬and we are proud to have signed a significant agreement with SAMI for the transfer‭ ‬of technology‭. ‬This first-of-its-kind cooperation between the two countries is a hugely important achievement‭, ‬not only for NIMR‭ ‬but also for the UAE‭.‬

Similarly‭, ‬we have a joint venture in Algeria to produce the NIMR vehicle range and we are also working to expand our footprint‭ ‬in Eastern Europe to enable localized manufacturing and production‭, ‬and help build sustainable businesses there‭.‬

In addition‭, ‬EDGE is part of MoIAT’s National In-Country-Value Program that seeks to redirect public and private sector procurement to the local economy in line with‭ ‬“Operation 300Bn”‭.‬

What are NIMR’s recent biggest accomplishments in the defense sector and what are its future plans‭?‬

The launch of the second generation of AJBAN and HAFEET comes after years of continuous hard work‭, ‬development‭, ‬and testing‭. ‬Leveraging all of the lessons learned over the last 20‭ ‬years‭, ‬we set out to ensure the platforms provide cutting-edge capabilities‭ ‬so that we could be competitive not just for our local customers‭, ‬but for the international market as well‭.‬

We maintained the same DNA of the vehicle but completely upgraded all of its specifications‭. ‬We doubled the vehicles’‭ ‬payload‭, ‬increased the crew capacity‭, ‬improved the vehicles’‭ ‬maintainability‭, ‬updated the electrical architecture‭, ‬and most importantly‭, ‬dramatically increased the protection level‭.‬

In addition‭, ‬the agreement that we signed with SAMI is one of the biggest highlights for us‭. ‬Following years’‭ ‬worth of hard work in Saudi Arabia and demonstrating the JAIS vehicle in extreme trials‭, ‬we felt a wonderful sense of achievement when we signed the licensing agreement with SAMI‭.‬

I am pleased to say we have a strong sales pipeline for our products‭, ‬and the second generation of our vehicles has garnered huge interest from both local and international customers‭, ‬particularly in Eastern Europe‭, ‬South East Asia‭, ‬and Africa‭.‬

We are also currently upgrading our product portfolio and hope to showcase these in the early stages of 2023‭.‬

Profile

Abri du Plessis is the Chief Executive Officer‭ (‬CEO‭) ‬of NIMR‭, ‬an EDGE entity‭, ‬and he is responsible for the business growth of NIMR‭, ‬regionally and internationally through their competitive products and services‭.‬

He has 20‭ ‬years of leadership experience in Project Management‭, ‬IT‭, ‬Operations‭, ‬and Engineering‭, ‬10‭ ‬of which are at the executive level‭.‬

Prior to joining NIMR‭, ‬he worked as Director of Projects‭, ‬Engineering‭, ‬and IT at Denel Vehicle Systems in South Africa‭. ‬In his role‭, ‬he was responsible for managing and leading the total product lifecycle‭, ‬from concept to after-sales support‭.‬

Earlier‭, ‬Abri completed a tenure at BAE Systems Land Systems SA‭, ‬where he served in several leadership positions as Director of‭ ‬Projects and Engineering‭, ‬Director of International Projects‭, ‬and Director of IT and Business Excellence‭.‬

Abri holds an MBA in Finance from the University of Pretoria‭, ‬in South Africa‭.‬

He has a B Com degree in Information Systems and a Diploma in Datametrics and Computer Science‭, ‬both from the University of South Africa and has also completed an Executive Development Program at Henley Business School in South Africa‭.‬

»  ‬Interviewed by‭: «ALJUNDI»

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