For many reasons, cybersecurity has become one of the most important aspects of national security in its comprehensive sense in any country, especially in light of the great expansion of reliance on cyberspace in work and providing services, etc. during Coronavirus epidemic, which was obvious. With digital transformation plans in all fields and sectors, increased dependence on cyberspace is expected in the coming period, so that this transformation is no longer an option, but imperative.
Dr. Fahad Al-Yafei, Head of Platforms and Systems’ Sector at the Advanced Technology Group EDGE, said in an interview with “Al-Jundi” Journal that within five years from now, the group aims to consolidate its position as an entity capable of taking advantage of advanced technology and providing it with high speed, in addition to its ability to combine between commercial market innovations and military capabilities, to become the new generation pioneer in the sector, since the group has re-prioritized digitization and automation and re-focused on the most in-demand national manufacturing capabilities.
Cooperation and partnership
Al-Yafei explained that EDGE aims to strengthen cooperation and partnership in the field of advanced technology, create innovative opportunities, and impart more flexibility to adaptation processes to new developments, explaining that very few companies today have the advantage of self-sufficiency when it comes to meeting defence needs, some customers buy integrated solutions, while others buy specific subsystems, etc.
He added that in EDGE they seek to develop a type of relationship that combines innovations in the commercial market and military capabilities, and with the development that the United Arab Emirates is witnessing in its march towards a knowledge-based economy and its orientation to become a technology-exporting country. EDGE benefits from the UAE capabilities and great potential and investment, as well as from the achievements of our many national institutions, especially in the field of modernization and development of this sector, and it also aims to contribute to a pivotal role in stimulating investment in the field of advanced technology, as well as its ambition to build technologies and solutions necessary to secure our future, and to ensure our sovereignty over these technologies at the same time.
Al-Yafei said that with regard to placing the UAE on the map of advanced military industries, the revenues of EDGE Group today exceed AED18.4 billion ($ 5 billion), and that it has ambitious projects to develop sovereign capabilities and export potentials, so that the UAE becomes a major international player in the field of technology and defence sector as well, indicating that since the UAE is today the second largest Arab economy, and with its establishment, EDGE Group seeks to take advantage of the strong investment capabilities of the UAE, and aims to build a local defence industry capable of meeting our security needs and diversifying the UAE economy, promotes employment, contributes to a knowledge-based economy, and enables a secure future.
He added that what EDGE is doing is developing practical solutions to meet challenges in the defence sector and other fields, through their close work with frontline operators and workers, and through their intensive investments in research and development as well, indicating that they aspire to achieve leadership in technology of high importance, and increase their capabilities in the field of export.
He stated that there are some challenges facing the defence sector and military industries, and that currently conflicts are no longer confined to the traditional battlefields, but also include the battlefields that witness the use of a mixed system of hybrid wars and various unclear tactics. By taking advantage of vulnerabilities, adversaries can exploit available networks and strategies without having to participate in open confrontations.
He stressed that EDGE is well aware that weapons are becoming smarter day by day, and that the Internet -of -Things, artificial intelligence and autonomous capabilities have created new challenges in various fields, explaining that they in EDGE work through a combination of distinguished human competencies and advanced technologies to confront asymmetric threats and to reduce future conflicts, whether that is through identifying and defining threats, or by supporting field operations, or securing communication systems and information technology services to their clients, and that protecting the work system is crucial to achieving the goal of their mission on both the field level and in the digital domain.
He indicated that what advanced technology is really doing is paving the way towards the development process, and therefore they should adopt a forward-looking vision, and be aware of the main global, regional and local trends, to identify and arrange the capabilities that must be localized, which requires them to strengthen close cooperation to ensure their success in achieving safety and security.
He explained that with regard to their reliance on artificial intelligence techniques in the field of military industries, the UAE is famous for its challenge to prevailing concepts, its pursuit of leadership, overcoming obstacles and achieving the impossible, and working to ensure progress and development, especially after it maintained its high global position on the Global Innovation Index for 2020, and its forefront position at the level of the Arab world in this field, so the UAE seeks to place artificial intelligence within its core strategies (the strategy of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the strategy of artificial intelligence, and others), which is also a fundamental pillar in its vision of the state’s centenary in 2071.
He pointed out that EDGE takes advantage of advanced technology to find innovative solutions in the defence sector and other fields while integrating artificial intelligence technologies into its products and services, given that these technologies have become today an essential part of modern warfare, as they contribute to improving the ability to control, self-organize and autonomation of combat systems depending on their computing and decision-making capabilities, pointing out that advanced artificial intelligence systems can improve the capabilities of smart combat systems, thanks to their ability to handle large volumes of field data more efficiently.
He stated that EDGE is currently working with multiple partners and clients in a variety of sectors in the region and around the world, and will continue to strengthen these relationships to form an advanced technological work system in the defence sector and other fields, as they currently have various partnerships with large and small corporations, well-established companies, as well as with emerging, local and international companies, through which these diversified partnerships are re-strengthening the bonds of cooperation and joint action in the field of advanced technology.
On the EDGE targeted markets and partnerships, Dr. Fahad Al-Yafei said that the Group is currently focusing mainly on the UAE market, as the Group was established with the aim of developing the UAE’s sovereign capabilities, consolidating its knowledge-based economy, enhancing its export capabilities, and seeking to empower the UAE to secure its vital defence infrastructure, and form an advanced technological work system in the defence sector and other fields, by working with multiple partners and customers in various sectors in the region and in various parts of the world. EDGE is also working to innovate interoperability and develop expertise in various areas, depending on a business model that focuses on building and enhancing cooperation opportunities to serve common goals with partners.
Al-Yafei indicated that the Middle East and North Africa region is one of the main markets for EDGE, as it has strong relations with government partners in the defence sector, in addition to being always open to building cooperation and joint work relationships that would expand the Group’s capabilities and achieve its goals in the field of export.
He said that the establishment of EDGE comes in line with the aspirations of the Emirates in the field of developing advanced technologies and the defence sector, in addition to their aspirations towards providing the systems and weapons that the UAE seeks to export abroad, explaining that with the increasing of domestic defence industrial capabilities, through EDGE, the UAE guarantees its ability to develop important sovereign defence products it needs to defend itself.
By making use of the latest advanced technologies, EDGE is able to provide flexible, robust and innovative solutions that enhance the ability to make quick and accurate decisions to renew the defence sector and develop its core concepts. Mr. Al Yafei explained that through more than 25 corporations operating within five essential sectors, the armed forces, which is EDGE key partner, operate many of the Group products, in addition to a number of armies around the world that consider EDGE their favorite supplier, due to their ability to quickly and transparently develop solutions in all their dealings.
He also mentioned that the ADASI company affiliated with the platforms and systems sector in EDGE launched the “Qarmousha” aircraft, which is the first Emirati drone that takes off and lands vertically, in February 2020, and this military aircraft is lightweight and designed for a payload of up to 100 kg, and is characterized by the ability to flying for 8 hours, or flying a distance of 150 kilometers, with a high-resolution camera. The drone can detect leaks in gas pipelines, carry out reconnaissance, inspections of infrastructure facilities, and search and rescue operations.
He explained that it is expected that the advanced capabilities of this aircraft will reduce the total cost of operations and allow armies to maintain helicopters that soldiers use to accomplish critical and vital tasks. EDGE is constantly innovating and renewing in this sector, by working quickly and transparently to provide innovative technology and services in market.
He explained that with regard to their projects and future plans, since the establishment of the EDGE Group, they have rearranged the priorities of digitization and automation and refocused on the most demanded national manufacturing capabilities, and at the current stage they created a roadmap to develop their products, indicating that their focus is still strongly on this in the long run, especially as they aim to play a pivotal role, given that development is a motive for investment in the field of advanced technology, as they seek to build technologies and solutions necessary for their future, and to ensure sovereignty over these technologies.
He stated that with the UAE shifting from the buyer’s site to a country that invests, cooperates and exports its products, EDGE will work to increase investment and strengthen its relations with global players to be part of a stronger business system as an exporter. At the same time, he stressed that, within five years from now, EDGE aims to consolidate its position as an entity capable of taking advantage of advanced technology, providing it at breakneck speed, as well as its ability to combine commercial market innovations with military capabilities, to become the new generation leader in this sector.
He said that they are currently working with many partners and customers in various sectors at the regional and international levels, and they will continue to rely on the achievements they have accomplished in this field, indicating that EDGE is today a strategic partner for customers, suppliers and countries alike, and it helps in providing countries with a wide range of innovative products and services in accordance with international standards.
He added that EDGE focuses strongly on development and joint cooperation, and that the Group is open to new ideas and proposals, as it works to build partnerships with markets in various parts of the world, within 3 basic categories that include; approved suppliers to sell its products, a category that enjoys reciprocal relations of high value, a category of commercial partners who also help in terms of intellectual property to accelerate the sovereign capabilities within the main technology Groups, and the last category is the category of strategic partners for the sale of products and transfer of intellectual property within the biotechnology Groups, in addition to the fact that these companies also buy products and services from EDGE Group.
Interviewed by: Razi ELhadmi – Photography by: Mohammed Al Shaer