The first quarter of 2011 sees the tenth edition of the largest tri-service defence and security event in the Middle East and North Africa region. Taking place in Abu Dhabi, the International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) 2011 will feature over 900 international manufacturers and suppliers showcasing their latest defence technology, systems and equipment at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) on 20-24 February 2011. Since its inaugural event in 1993, the popularity of IDEX has continued to rise. Established as a globally recognised tri-service defence exhibition held biennially in the UAE’s capital city, year-on-year, the exhibition attracts a growing number of international and key military and government representatives.

“We have seen IDEX grow from strength to strength, since its inauguration 17 years ago,” said Mohamed Al Mashgouni, IDEX 2011 show director. “2011 will be our largest yet, as decision-makers from all over the world come to investigate the very latest in defence and security technology.”

The last IDEX took place in 2009, during a period when a substantial number of nations were in recession; nevertheless, it enjoyed one of its most successful runs to date. Officials announced 50,000 attendees at IDEX 2009, including 150 official delegations that attended the official opening ceremony and participated in tours of the exhibition. Attendees came from 97 different countries with 52% coming from the UAE, 5% from the US, 4% from the UK and 3.5% from Saudi Arabia.

In 2009, IDEX saw billions of dollars of contracts signed between exhibitors and governments from numerous countries, with the UAE Armed Forces announcing deals worth over $5bn.

With economic data suggesting that most nations have begun recovery, IDEX 2011 remains a regional event high in demand.

“IDEX has grown from strength to strength since its inauguration 17 years ago.”

The 900-plus exhibitors will represent over 50 countries from around the world. 30 country pavilions have confirmed their participation at the 2011 anniversary edition. Returning to IDEX 2011 will be the Gulf Defence Conference, which will for the first time be organised by the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis (INEGMA). INEGMA is one of the leading organisers of specialist defence and security events in the Middle East. The Gulf Defence Conference will be held on Saturday 19 February, and is expected to feature highly acclaimed international and regional experts, taking delegates through some of the latest developments and issues faced in today’s defence technology market.

Naval defence exhibition (NAVDEX)

The major new aspect for 2011 is the naval defence exhibition (NAVDEX), a dedicated naval exhibition focused on naval defence and coastal security. As industry reports continue to predict increasing growth on defence spending across the region, the launch of NAVDEX accurately reflects the growing needs of the region’s naval defence market. According to advisory Jane’s DS Forecast, Arabian Gulf nations and Western Indian Ocean regional countries are projected to invest around $6bn in naval vessels, aircraft and their equipment in 2010. Averaged annual spending is then projected to climb until at least 2019.

Over the ten-year period 2010-19, total regional naval spending is projected to reach around $76.4bn, with the largest market, India, projected to contribute nearly 65% of this. The UAE, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are projected to account for another 20% of the total market value.

As an integral element of IDEX, NAVDEX will be located at the ADNEC marina, linked to the exhibition centre. Local and international companies will showcase the latest naval technology, systems and craft within a purpose built air-conditioned temporary structure. Other features include on-water boats berthed along marina pontoons, quayside displays, visiting naval vessels and daily live on-water demonstrations.

NAVDEX 2011 has already attracted a number of high-profile exhibitors from all over the world, ranging from ship manufacturers to ship repair services companies, technology providers to naval aviation, weapons and combat systems to logistics and infrastructure providers, training and education suppliers to equipment providers for diving, search and rescue, firefighting and medical supplies.

One of the major players from the Middle East to confirm its attendance at NAVDEX is Abu Dhabi Ship Building (ADSB). ADSB is a world-class shipbuilder, specialising in the construction, repair, refit and upgrade of naval, military and commercial vessels at its facility in the UAE capital. It is currently working to play a major role in technical support and services for all GCC naval, military and commercial operators, and handles over 200 vessels a year for ship repairs and refits. Unsurprisingly, business is booming, with ADSB gaining revenue of $315.8m in 2009.

Speaking of his company’s participation at NAVDEX 2011, Mohamed Salem Al Junaibi, ADSB general manager, said: “NAVDEX is an important platform for enhancing Abu Dhabi Ship Building’s visibility within the MENA and Asia markets. Being a dedicated exhibition for naval defence and coastal security, we will maximise this opportunity to extend our position as the Gulf’s leading shipbuilder and support contractor to a broader market. Co-located with IDEX 2011, NAVDEX will enable us to interact with the top international names in naval products and service.”

“NAVDEX is a dedicated naval exhibition focused on naval defence and coastal security.”

NAVDEX exhibitors

Other companies already confirmed include Ocean Power International, based in the UAE and the supplier of Thordon Bearings; Finland’s Wärtsilä, a global leader in complete lifecycle power solutions for the marine and energy markets; and Norweigan company Vestdavit AS, which specialises in the manufacturing of hydraulically and electrically operated davits.

Geobrugg Security Engineering, a Swiss company specialising in high-energy impact barriers, will be introducing products into the UAE for the first time. The company’s solutions are made of high-tensile wire mesh in combination with energy-absorbing elements to meet the highest standards and requirements, and most solutions are client-tailored and designed.

“During NAVDEX 2011, Geobrugg Security Engineering plans to unveil the newly developed FOXX boat barrier, designed to keep speedboats out of a restricted area and form a perimeter around a facility,” said Jochen Braunwarth, head of international business development at the company.

Heading over to Abu Dhabi from North America will be Canada’s L-3 MAPPS systems – a worldwide leader in maritime automation and control, navigation, communications, dynamic positioning, and power distribution and conditioning for navies and commercial customers worldwide – plus US stabiliser company Quantum Marine, reportedly one of the largest in the world with 85% of large mega-yachts having its systems.

This article was first published in our sister publication Defence and Security Systems International.