Technology key issue at defence meeting
By Jumana Al Tamimi, Associate EditorPublished: April 27, 2009, 23:16
Dubai: The top brass from several Arab and non-Arab countries along with representatives of several international defence companies opened a meeting in Dubai yesterday aiming at sharing experiences and further encouraging cooperation between military leaders and global defence enterprises.
Holding the "UAE Advanced Defence & Security Technology Summit", coincides with increasing concerns over tension in some areas in Asia and Africa. Yet, the two are not related, the UAE spokesperson for the event said.
"The timing [of the meeting] has not been chosen for any [specific] reason. It had been planned earlier and is not related to the developments in the region," Lieutenant Colonel Yaqoob Yousuf Bin Hammad from the UAE Ministry of Defence told Gulf News on the sidelines of the meeting.
During the two-day meeting, delegates will exchange views and share experiences on issues that range from bloody attacks in Iraq and terrorism in Pakistan and Afghanistan, to organised crimes including money laundering and sea piracy.
"Sharing experiences and opening the door for discussion in such an open way is something new to the region," said Mustafa Al Ani, a prominent strategic analyst at the Dubai-based Gulf Research Centre.
There is a realisation that these issues should be discussed openly, he added.
The eminent participants include Lieutenant General Obaid Mohammad Abdullah Al Ka'abi, undersecretary at the UAE Ministry of Defence, Lieutenant General Raza Mohammad Khan, Deputy to the Chairman, joint Chiefs of Staff in Pakistan, top brass from Pakistan and many Nato members, including the US and UK.
Other representatives from defence companies from countries such as Northern America, Europe and the Middle East are also participating. Their products range from software to military equipment.
The meeting aims to "gain the technological experience from US and Europe," Bin Hammad explained, adding, "the next generation has to have the technology and every country in the world has the right to own technology."
Bin Hammad and many delegates at the meeting don't feel that boosting countries' defence technologies contradicts with attempts to solve regional issues peacefully.
"Technology is like any other weapon," said Brigadier Nayel Al Madadha, Director of IT Directorate of the Jordanian Armed Forces, one of the most experienced in the Middle East.
"By possessing technology, countries can impose their own conditions. This is a focal point in solving any issue," Al Madadha said in an interview with Gulf News.
Many military companies look at the region as a "permanent market" for their products, Al Ani noted.
Meanwhile, the volume of weapons exported to the Middle East has risen sharply in the last four years, threatening to destabilise the volatile region further, a leading Swedish think tank warned on Monday.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said arms exports to the Middle East increased 38 per cent in the period 2004 to 2008, compared with 1999 to 2003. The United States supplied most of the arms although major shipments also came from France.