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February 16, 2021 11:17 am

Director of Abu Dhabi Arms Exhibition Calls on Netanyahu to Approve Israeli Participation in Defense Event

avatar by Udi Etsion / CTech

An El Al plane is seen in the background landing at Abu Dhabi International Airport, in the United Arab Emirates, Aug. 31, 2020. Photo: Ministry of Presidential Affairs / WAM / Handout via Reuters.

CTech – The organizers of the International Defense Exhibition and Conference (IDEX), which is set to open in Abu Dhabi next Sunday, haven’t given up on Israeli participation, with Director of IDEX Saeed Al Mansouri sending a letter on Monday to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressing that the Israeli delegation’s presence is “extremely important for the exchange of business and the building of ties” and “presents the chance to evaluate the best possible solutions for the regional and global threats that we commonly face.”

The participation of Israeli companies in the event was thrown into serious doubt on Sunday after the governmental exemptions committee refused to approve the departure of the first flight of cargo and representatives scheduled to leave for the UAE on Sunday night, just hours before its planned takeoff.

Following the signing of the agreement to establish full diplomatic relations with both the UAE and Bahrain last summer, Israel’s defense sector companies were meant for the first time to openly participate in IDEX, a biennial arms and defense technology sales exhibition and the largest of its kind in the Middle East.

However, Israel banned passenger flights in and out of the country three weeks ago as it sought to stop the spread of new coronavirus variants and the airport has been closed ever since, apart from cargo and emergency flights, or any flights approved by the exemptions committee.

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“The exhibition is amongst the most prestigious defense exhibitions in the world and will attract premier vendors in the defense industry from around the globe, including the Israeli delegation who will participate historically for the first time,” wrote Al Mansouri. “Participants and exhibitors have already invested vast amounts of money in planning, reserving space, marketing and logistics for their delegations along with respecting the special health requirements and criteria that are necessary at this time. There are approximately 270 participants from 50 companies expected from Israel.”

“In the spirit of the Abraham Accords, the IDEX exhibition will be the first opportunity that Israelis from the defense industry have had the chance to participate and expose their services, products & solutions to governments in the Gulf region & to over 100 delegations from all over the world arriving at IDEX,” Al Mansouri added. “We believe that this is extremely important for the exchange of business and the building of ties but also presents the chance to evaluate the best possible solutions for the regional and global threats that we commonly face.”

IDEX is a five-day event held at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, which prior to the Covid-19 pandemic would attract 100,000 visitors from across the world to view exhibits and displays by over 1,000 companies from 60 countries. The upcoming event is expected to be smaller due to coronavirus, but unlike similar events wasn’t canceled.

Israel Aerospace Industries, Elbit Systems, and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems were each planning to set up their own displays at the exhibition after receiving permission from the Israeli Defense Export Controls Agency to showcase significant weapon systems.

According to estimates, around $5 million were invested in preparations for the exhibition.

“We understand the veracity of reservations of travel, however these are exceptional circumstances. We as the organizers are doing everything in our power to ensure the health and the safety of all participants and visitors including observing strict Covid protocols & we are asking for His Excellency’s office to support in finding a solution that would allow for the Israeli delegations to attend as planned. We appreciate your consideration for the urgency of this matter,” Al Mansouri concluded.

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