Two large important events began in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, but without many of the Israeli participants who might have liked to travel. After a whirlwind embrace last year where some 130,000 Israelis went to Dubai, the airport closure in January in Israel has left much to be desired as people skipped out on important events in the UAE.
Meanwhile in Abu Dhabi the massive defense fair called IDEX opened on Sunday as well. Like Gulfood it will run for five days. Up to forty Israeli companies were supposed to go for the first time this year. They were going to have booths at an Israeli pavilion. ISDEF, a part of Avnon Group, organized the important Israeli presence and invested in it. However Israeli authorities prevented attendance from Israel by refusing exemptions for Israel’s airport closure. This left companies confused and unsure of what to do. Some were able to find locals to manage their booths at the last minute.
For instance, IAI said that it has a booth at IDEX and that those visiting can connect virtually. Rafael Advanced Defense Systems also has an impressive booth. A Spanish subsidiary called PAP is managing it. Many other companies were unable to attend. Some approached the courts in Israel to see if they could go at the last minute. This is a blow to some of the smaller companies who hoped to show off products and meet new potential customers.
With Israel’s presence reduced at IDEX, a plethora of other interesting systems are on display. The UAE’s Highland Systems is showing off its Storm amphibious hybrid multi-role vehicle, according to reports. India sent a whole navy ship to the exhibition. IDEX has a naval component named NAVDEX. Minks Wheel Tractor Plant also sent a delegation. General Atomics also is at IDEX, showcasing new technology for UAVs. “Unmanned aerial systems are only as useful as the sensor they can carry,” the company says. Israel has a plethora of such sensors and drones, such as the Aeronautics Orbiter line and IAI Heron and Elbit Hermes. It would have behooved Israel’s companies to have been able to have a larger presence at the event. In the end, some 1,300 vendors went to IDEX and it appears most of the Israeli presence didn’t make it. Coming days could see a change in that, but so far, the airport closure kept the Israelis from the event.
Defense deals don’t all happen at a major event like this, they happen over years with joint ventures and partnerships and discussions. Because procurement processes take years, sometimes decades, missing out on IDEX is just one event. However, it was symbolic and important because it was the first year Israeli companies could be there so publicly.
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