Amid a massive conference that included a large number of sheikhs, dignitaries, military and civilian officials, media men, and representatives of defence industries from inside and outside the country, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, launched, on November 5, 2019, the “EDGE” company, which is the largest defence industrial alliance at the level of the UAE and perhaps at the regional level.
EDGE aims primarily to make the UAE a prominent global player in the production of advanced technologies. Al-Jundi reporter M. Fahed AL Halabieh seized this opportunity and met His Excellency Faisal Al-Bannai Chief Executive and Managing Director of this great edifice “EDGE”. Al Jundi discussed with Mr. Al Bannai the nature of this company, the goal of its establishment, and the role it will play in supporting our armed forces and the like.
Can you give us a briefing about the EDGE company that you launched today (5/11/2019) under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces?
EDGE will include 25 Emirati companies specialized in defence industries covering almost all fields, 12,000 employees working in five technological development sectors: armament sector, land, naval and air systems sector, and the cyber security sector, electronic warfare sector, and the supply sector.
EDGE will work to develop interoperable systems, and enhance its expertise in response to the requirements of the new era that are fundamentally based on developing adaptation and compatibility capabilities by adopting advanced technologies such as, autonomous vehicles, cyber systems, and advanced propulsion systems, robotics and smart systems, with an emphasis on artificial intelligence in all products and services.
• What role will “EDGE” play on the defence industries scene?
EDGE will first play an active role in enhancing the UAE’s position and enabling it to protect itself by providing our armed forces with advanced defence capabilities and boosting their independence. Second: Enhancing the UAE’s role in being a enabling it to export advanced technologies, and this is a public policy for the Emirates which aims to transfer the UAE from the stage of knowledge to the stage of exporting advanced technologies through cooperation and coordination between “EDGE” and other companies located on the UAE’s land, which contribute to upgrading the UAE economy and enhancing its position in this field. EDGE will also seek establishing quality partnerships with foreign companies to help protect the UAE and its allies, and to integrate with other selected companies, rather than competing with them, to reach the required products quickly, accurately and optimally.
EDGE will also provide critical defence solutions to the country and its allies, and mobilize, coordinate and synergise all capabilities to raise the level of our products in quantity and quality, and then accelerate their introduction into existence. And in order to build capabilities and accelerate production, we will not manufacture everything from the ground up, that is, we will not manufacture everything from scratch, but rather we will benefit from what is available and ready in the commercial markets as well to integrate it with our products and thus we can further accelerate our production processes.
In your speech, you focused on the role that “EDGE” will play in cyber defence, what is the reason for that?
Cyber defence is indispensable with now and in the future. It is a must for every country that strives for smooth and peaceful work progress of its vital and economic facilities. Consider how many incidents of penetration of the national networks of some countries around the world and in our region have caused great material losses to the affected countries. On the military level, the matter becomes much more dangerous, of course, especially since the matter in this case extends to national security, where hostile electronic sabotage can cause neutralizing the operation of electronic devices of the missile systems, such as air defence missiles, interfering with communications or penetrating them, broadcasting false orders or reversing military orders of the friendly forces, for example. Thus spreading confusion among the friendly forces and adversely affecting the morale of the armies and may cause their defeat, and this was exacerbated recently by the spread of hybrid and asymmetric wars waged by rebel and terrorist groups or factions using armies specialized in electronic sabotage. Cyber defence has become a security and economic necessity.
During the conference in which you spoke, you expressed your ambitions to produce highly sophisticated technologies that match the best international specifications, and this needs to have an effective mechanism and acquisition of advanced technologies and experiences from developed countries, what have you done in this regard?
Now, as I mentioned, we have 25 companies, some of which are already producing advanced technologies. The difference is what we will do in the next stage, part of this stage will focus our attention on accelerating these capabilities as all these companies have become under the umbrella and ceiling of one entity so that we can make a quick decision and get rid of bureaucracy. Secondly, the tireless and continuous work to attract creative and innovative minds and experiences from all parts of the world to enhance the capabilities we already have, in the same way that the UAE was able to attract the best minds in the world in the commercial field, for example, and this is known to almost to everybody. The other part will focus on our cooperation with foreign companies, large and small, as advanced technologies do not come only from large companies, as you know.
In order to achieve our goal of producing technologies at the highest international levels and with the highest specifications and quality we will work to attract talents and skills from home and abroad and from all parts of the world.
To what extent are foreign companies willing to transfer advanced technologies to us?
In my speech that I gave at the conference, I detailed the quality of all the companies that we will deal with, and I said that there are three types of companies: entities (or companies) that want to sell us technology, and this we value, appreciate and respect, of course. Other parties who seek to sell us technology, but they are transferring technology to us with specific capabilities, and some others who are selling us technology and help us transfer capabilities and buy from us the technologies that we produce. We will focus in our dealings on all parties and companies that will help us achieving our strategic goals. Every company takes a strategic decision that help us to achieve our common interests is welcome, of course.
What will be the advantage of “EDGE” over other similar industrial entities that manufacture defence systems and equipment?
- “EDGE” company will be characterized by the production of land, sea, air and cyber systems, a very advanced process based on the latest technology and the best technical and operational specifications, benefiting from the experiences and lessons of modern conflicts and from anticipating future conflicts and their requirements. It will also be characterized by the speed of decision-making, thanks to its disposal of bureaucracy and routine, mainly thanks to the unlimited support and great potential that our wise leadership put in its hands and to the personal support we receive directly from His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces; the creation of EDGE came as a response His Highness vision. In addition, the great steps taken by the Emirates to enhance the spirit of creativity and innovation adopted by “EDGE” will constitute an active component in accelerating the production process and responding almost immediately to the requirements of our armed forces and our internal and external clients.
What is the expected impact of such an industrial entity as “EDGE”, with huge potential and capacity at the regional and perhaps global levels?
There is no doubt that EDGE will have a distinctive and clear impact on all levels due to the network of cooperation relations and broad partnerships that it will build with defence industry companies inside and outside the country regionally and globally, and to attracting the best brains, skills and expertise from around the world, the thing which will enable EDGE to produce systems and equipment that are highly sophisticated, accurate and effective, which will also have an impact on the capabilities of our allies to defend their homelands, their security and their people. There is also no doubt that it will have a positive impact on the national economy of the state and on the commercial activities in general, because our potential clients will be from within the state and abroad as well.
What about the workforce at EDGE ?
The majority of the cadres working in EDGE will be well-trained and properly qualified UAE citizens along with the expert workforce and creative brains that we will be attracting from abroad from all over the world, helping to blend and synergize knowledge and experience and ultimately improves performance and quality of the product and boosts expertise of our national cadres.
To what extent are our armed forces going to benefit from the establishment of this gigantic alliance and blessed industrial edifice of “EDGE”, which we wish all the best?
- The main goal of “EDGE”, but one of the priorities of its goals is to serve our armed forces and security services by providing them with the equipment they need as fast as possible and enhance their capabilities to the highest extent possible and cooperate with external and local companies to meet specific requirements.
On this occasion, what message would you like to send to our valiant armed forces ?
Our armed forces are our support, our backers, and we are here to support them and provide them with all the necessary defensive and technical capabilities that live up to the aspirations and visions of our wise leadership with all its ambitions, which work tirelessly, day and night to elevate us to the ranks of the most advanced countries and to take the lead in every field, including technical and military fields.