International defence conference kicks off in Abu Dhabi

International defence conference kicks off in Abu Dhabi

The International Defence Conference (IDC) 2019, held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, began this week in Abu Dhabi under the theme ‘Shaping Our Shared Future: Strengthening Our Security and Prosperity through Innovation”.

His Excellency Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, UAE Minister of Economy, opened the proceedings with a keynote address. His Excellency Mohammed bin Ahmad Al Bawardi, UAE Minister of State for Defence Affairs, His Excellency Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, UAE Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, His Excellency Staff Major General Pilot Faris Khalaf Al Mazrouei, chairman of the Higher Organising Committee of the International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) and the Naval Defence and Maritime Security Exhibition (NAVDEX) 2019, His Excellency Major General Staff Pilot Ishaq Saleh Al Balushi, Deputy Chairman of the Higher Organising Committee of IDEX and NAVDEX 2019, His Excellency Tareq Abdul Raheem Al Hosani, CEO of the Tawazun Economic Council, and Humaid Matar Al Dhaheri, Group CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (ADNEC), also attended the opening ceremony.

Distinguished speakers at IDC 2019 include defence ministers, senior government officials, high-ranking military officers, eminent academics and leaders of renowned defence companies from around the world.

In his welcome note,His Excellency Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri said: “It is my honour and privilege to address this esteemed conference. The UAE government takes pride in welcoming you all to IDEX, which aims to develop a robust defence and industrial base that will support and contribute to economic development in the UAE and globally.”

“A competitive national economy is one of the pillars of the National Agenda of the UAE Vision 2021. This ambitious strategy seeks to position the UAE among the best countries in the world by the golden jubilee of the union in 2021. The pace of technological advancements and related developments across various sectors is of great significance to the UAE. These advancements are particularly relevant in areas such as health care, mobility, defence, aviation, as well as economic stability, hospitality and smart trade, where the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies are set to are set to play defining roles,”

“The UAE Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), the first of its kind globally, has been established to provide a practical framework for policy makers and to support national efforts in the adoption of advanced technologies with the aim of increasing their contribution to economic growth and diversification.”

His Excellency Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri noted that with a clear vision for innovation, the UAE has embarked on a journey of unparalleled excellence in the era of 4IR. He also explained that the establishment of the UAE Council for the Fourth Industrial Revolution seeks to strengthen the institutional framework in this domain.

“Speaking on the occasion, His Excellency Tareq Abdul Raheem Al Hosani, said: “We are committed to enabling and developing the UAE’s economy. Our main focus is to elevate and strengthen the industry ecosystem and supply chain, and we do that through supporting SMEs, which will, in turn, contribute to economic growth and development in areas that include and extend beyond defence and security. SMEs are flexible and agile and are the ideal segment to contribute towards the UAE’s economy on the military and civilian fronts.”

Al Hosani added: “By focusing on SMEs, strengthening supply chains with sustainable projects, and meeting industrial requirements, offset programmes maximise the use of cash flows, enhance the welfare of societies and provide jobs to citizens.”

Al Hosani also pointed out the importance of establishing research and development centres to exploit human capital, bettering the way of teaching in universities, enhancing infrastructure to accelerate growth, building companies to raise the quality of products by SMEs as well as developing strategic projects that meet demand.

For his part, Humaid Matar Al Dhaheri, said: “The International Defence Conference (IDC), a leading platform for experts, decision makers and specialists, is paving the way for re-shaping efforts and strategies inline with the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution across various sectors. The extent of international participation confirms the prestigious position of the IDC in the meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE) industry.”

Al Dhaheri added: “We are proud to partner with the Tawazun Economic Council. This strategic partnership resulted in a comprehensive global conference covering all issues related to science and modern technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution particularly in relation to defence and security.”

Al Daheri concluded: “We look forward to further cooperation with all our partners in the public and private sectors to befit Abu Dhabi’s leading status in hosting international events and conferences.”

Following the keynote address, Michio Kaku, professor of Theoretical Physics at The City College of New York in the USA, delivered an educational talk, entitled ‘Future World in Light of 4IR’. He noted that through advancing the law of mechanics, physicists are attributed to have started the industrial revolution, and likewise, the future of 4IR will also be built on laws that physicists develop, whether in molecular physics, artificial intelligence or nanotechnology. Speaking on how current technology compares with the past, Kaku said: “Today’s cell phones hold more computer power than NASA did in 1969 while journeying to the moon.”

He added: “As we experience rapid digitalisation across various spheres, we need to prepare for the future. We need to revolutionise education, teach applied concepts and applications and avoid memorising and rote learning.” Highlighting the success of Uber, Amazon and Airbnb in digitalising services, Kaku concluded that not all jobs can be digitalised, especially those that involve human-to-human interactions, as well as the jobs of intellectuals, leaders and innovators.

Saeed Al Gergawi, Director of the Dubai Future Academy moderated the first panel discussion of the day, entitled ‘Leveraging Offset as a Catalyst/Enabler of Economic Diversification’. Panellists included Dr Andreas Schwer, CEO of Saudi Arabian Military Industries, Mitchell Butta, Sector Director for Global Industrial Positioning at Northrop Grumman, Professor Ron Matthews, Cranfield University Chair in Defence Economics at the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom, and His Excellency Tareq Abdul Raheem Al Hosani.

Dr Andreas Schwer noted that Saudi Arabia was among the first to introduce offset programmes. He explained that to ensure the success of these programmes, the industry needs to move away from transaction-based relationships and adopt a more strategic partnership approach. He highlighted the objective of the Saudi Vision 2030 to embrace more partnerships and sustainable businesses.

For his part, Mitchell Butta explained that the UAE has succeeded in building strategic partnerships, diversifying the economy away from oil and gas, as well as initiating long-term joint ventures with big defence players. He added that the UAE leads offset programmes in many aspects, and the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030 addresses their expansion.

Taking place on 14 and 16 February at Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi as a precursor to the 2019 editions of IDEX and NAVDEX, IDC 2019 has convened over 1,200 participants. IDC and Abu Dhabi International Offset Conference (ADIOC) are being combined for the first time to create a comprehensive global forum to examine the latest developments in the defence, security and offset sectors as well as the potential impact of 4IR on these domains, particularly in terms of innovation, manufacturing and human capital development. Aimed at consolidating the status of the UAE as a leading global hub for specialised conferences, the event focuses on four key areas: offset, security & stability, economy, and innovation & artificial intelligence.

Following the conclusion of the conference, IDEX/NAVDEX 2019 will run at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre from 17 to 21 February under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

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