Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology explores boosting defense sector

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The UAE’s Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology (MoIAT) hosted the fifth session of its ‘Future of Industry Dialogue’ series. Convening relevant local entities operating in the defense sector, the virtual meeting falls within the framework of the Ministry’s continued efforts to boost the UAE’s industrial sector and enhance the competitiveness of local products.

Dr Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, and Sarah bint Yousef Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Technology, met with Brigadier Dr Eng Mubarak Saeed bin Ghafan Al Jabri, Head of Communications and Information Technology at the UAE Armed Forces; Tareq Abdul Raheem Al Hosani, CEO of Tawazun Economic Council; Matar Ali Al Romaithi, Chief Economic Development Officer of Tawazun Economic Council; Anas Nasser Al Otaiba, Director-General of the Emirates Defense Companies Council; Faisal Al Bannai, CEO and Managing Director of EDGE; Khaled Obaid Al Othman Al Ali, CEO and Chairman of Etimad Holding; Basel Shuhaiber, CEO of Al Marakeb Boat Manufacturing Company; Khamis Al Muwaiji, CEO of Al Fattan Ship Industry; AbdulRahman Al Blooshi, CEO of EOS Advanced Technologies; Tim Allen, CEO of Houbara Defence and Security; Sultan Al Qirtasi Al Nuaimi, Chairman of Premier Composite Technologies; Rashid Ahmed Seddiq Al Mutawaa, CEO and Founder of Cablecorp General Industry; Mohammed Saeed bin Jabr Al Suwaidi, CEO of Emirates Defense Technology; Faris Mohammad Al Mazrouei, Advisor at the Ministry of Presidential Affairs and Chairman of Calidus; and Fadel Saif Al Kaabi, CEO of International Golden Group.

The two ministers engaged with the participants, listening to their views regarding the development of the UAE’s defense sector, following the success of the International Defence Exhibition & Conference (IDEX) and Naval Defence & Maritime Security Exhibition (NAVDEX) 2021.

The meeting explored the future of the national defense industry and areas of focus during the upcoming period, such as entrepreneurship, advanced technology, Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) solutions, national talent development, strategic partnerships with major global manufacturers, and strengthening R&D.

Dr Al Jaber congratulated the Ministry of Defense on the resounding success of IDEX and NAVDEX, praising the impactful participation of national companies, and the innovations and advanced technologies showcased to global manufacturers.

“The exhibition was a source of great pride in our national defense industries, whether in terms of human capital or advanced products, and the inclusion of EDGE on the list of the highest-selling defense companies in the world marked a momentous milestone for the sector,” noted Dr Al Jaber.

Dr Al Jaber thanked the UAE leadership for its pioneering vision and continued support for the development of sectors of strategic importance, with the aim of advancing economic diversification. He noted that the local defense industry has witnessed a major transformation, in terms of product quality, operational efficiencies and technology innovation.

“MoIAT seeks to establish a framework for the sustainable development of the industrial sector, reduce its reliance on imports, and build an integrated national industry ecosystem based on the adoption of advanced technology and 4IR solutions. We aspire to keep pace with global advancements and highlight the UAE’s competitive advantages to attract foreign direct investment,” he added.

Dr Al Jaber also reviewed the strategic objectives of the Ministry. These include developing national industries, enhancing the competitiveness of UAE products, and encouraging innovation, in addition to creating an enabling environment and incentives, such as funding for R&D and attracting specialized talent. MoIAT’s mandate also involves laying the foundations for industries of the future, such as the defense, space, digital and aerospace sectors.

During the meeting, Dr Al Jaber provided an overview of the advantages that the UAE’s industrial sector offers to defense companies, including an advanced infrastructure and a flexible legislative framework which supports experimentation and innovation that contribute to increasing efficiencies and productivity. Furthermore, he discussed the ancillary benefits of the defense sector and its positive impact on other strategic industries in the country, such as information technologies, medicine, F&B, space and advanced technology.

For her part, Sarah bint Yousef Al Amiri said, “The defense sector is one of the pillars of UAE industry, a key driver of growth for the country’s industrial sector and one of the most important investors in R&D and advanced technology. We at MoIAT seek to support the journey of this strategic sector by providing facilities and incentives that drive technological transformation.”

She emphasised that national defense companies meet a large part of the UAE’s needs, and that the Ministry seeks to increase the volume of UAE exports and diversify the country’s economy.

Sarah Al Amiri added that the sector is known internationally as an engine for R&D and innovation, and cited several technologies, such as the internet and telecommunications, as industries that have stemmed from this sector. In this context, she highlighted the need to develop a mechanism to maximize the benefits of this technology transfer model for other sectors.

In closing, Al Amiri addressed key synergies that can be leveraged, noting that the defense industry has the potential to drive growth in primary sectors, such as the minerals and chemicals industries, and provide opportunities for other sectors to manufacture specialized products to serve the defense industry. She also explained that the presence of leading national companies with a global reputation and a forward-looking vision in the sector facilitates the adoption of 4IR solutions.

In addition, the UAE’s world-class information and communication technology infrastructure plays an integral role in enhancing the attractiveness of the defense sector to foreign investors and creative minds.

MoIAT launched the ‘Future of Industry Dialogue’, a series of ongoing high-level virtual meet-ups, in February 2021 to establish a new collaborative framework for building long-term synergies between government and industry in the UAE. Reflecting the UAE’s commitment to developing the national industrial ecosystem, the initiative focuses on identifying and mitigating sector-specific challenges, and developing innovative regulatory, logistical, and financing frameworks to drive sustainable industrial development and pave the way for the country to achieve its aspirations in a post-COVID-19 world.

 

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