Abu Dhabi (AsiaNews/ Agencies) - Gulf States are showing off their military might at the 11th International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX), which opened yesterday with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) putting on a spectacular show that included planes, helicopters, warships and unconventional warfare.
The biennial event is the largest arms exhibition in the Middle East with about 1,100 companies present from 58 countries. For Western companies, it is a great opportunity to sell weapons to developing nations or countries at war seeking to refurbish their armed forces, experts say.
This year's edition (17-21 February) is taking place with Syria embroiled in war. European nations, the United States and Arab countries are pondering whether to arm Syrian rebels.
The United States leads the way in terms of companies showing their ware with 169 firms, followed by the United Kingdom with 84. Next come France (70), Germania (69), Russia (39) and China (35).
The main buyers are the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman but also some countries from Asia and Africa.
After signing contracts for US$ 5 billion with the US companies, the UAE plans to buy more from France and the United Kingdom.
Christian Mons-Catoni, chairman of the French defence industries council (CIDEF), told reporters on the sideline of the IDEX defence show that France is close to selling its Rafale jet fighter.
Although Western nations have snubbed the plane for its high costs, Gulf States are prepared to buy it to replace their aging Tornado and Mirage.
Indeed, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told French media that the Arabian Peninsula has become a key partner for the defence industry in France and the West.
In addition to the Rafale, Paris is involved in negotiations to sell Tiger or NH90 helicopters, an air defence systems based on Aster or Mica missiles, armoured infantry vehicles VBCI and Caesar cannons. (S.C.)