Getting the EDGE on MbS

Summary: the United Arab Emirates has moved at speed to place itself in the top 25 globally of arms manufacturers and is aggressively pursuing new markets with ‘Made in the UAE’ drones providing a sharp contrast to similar efforts by Saudi Arabia.

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1 thought on “Getting the EDGE on MbS”

  1. Jonathan Campbell James

    All the evidence suggests that EDGE has been far more nimble – and successful – in developing as an arms conglomerate than has SAMI. In particular, EDGE has picked novel technologies in which to invest, teaming up with partners short of capital, and has identified a pathway through to its target of achieving status as a major global defence manufacturer. But I would be sceptical that EDGE has achieved a claimed $1.3bn in export sales last year, and without evidence to the contrary, its position in SIPRI data as the world’s 22nd largest arms manufacturer would seem to be based primarily on domestic sales to Emirati defence and security organisations. Nonetheless, securing the domestic market is a sound place to start.

    For both SAMI and EDGE, the challenge is to convert the large spend on major systems such as naval ships and fighter aircraft bought in from major foreign manufacturers into higher local added value, and then leverage the manufacturing capability developed into exports. The established global arms manufacturers are reluctant to play game with this, knowing that if intellectual property is transferred, they will be eased out of the market in future. They will offer component and sub-systems for local manufacture, but seek to hold on to their expensively-developed advanced technologies and responsibility for overall system integration.

    EDGE may be nimble, and has made rapid progress in the short term, but in the longer term SAMI has access to the largest national defence spend in the GCC. Saudi Arabia also has a much deeper pool of experienced and technically-qualified engineers than the UAE. Both though are likely to eat into the grip the largest Western defence manufacturers currently have on the global market.

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