Israel Makes History—Twice—at Arab-hosted Defense Events

Israel at IDEX. Photo courtesy of Israel Ministry of Defense Spokesperson’s Office.

At one time, it might have seemed utopian to imagine Israel and an Arab nation sharing military technology. But thanks to the Abraham Accords, Israel isn’t just displaying their military advancements at this year’s defense events in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)—they’re building them together with the UAE. On Monday, Israel’s Defense establishment opened their first ever national pavilion at the UAE’s International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX), and over at the parallel naval defense event (NAVDEX), the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) made history that same day by holding a joint maritime demonstration with the UAE.

A twitter post from the IAI feed on the unprecedented activity said the Israeli company “performed a range of military and commercial missions” with Abu Dhabi Ship Building (ADSB) and the affiliated EDGE Group. Globes reported that IAI and ADSB/EDGE jointly produced an autonomous maritime vessel, which is designed at least in part to counter sea mines.

Maritime military vessels aren’t the only technology on display for Israel in the UAE this week. According to a press release from the Israeli Ministry of Defense, more than 30 Israeli defense industries are presenting technology ranging from air defense systems, to missile systems to artificial intelligence to cyber solutions. The military’s International Defense Cooperation Directorate (known in Israel as SIBAT) took the lead for the pavilion display at IDEX.

 “The inauguration of the Israeli national pavilion in Abu Dhabi is an important milestone in deepening our highly esteemed defense partnership with the United Arab Emirates,” Head of SIBAT, Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Yair Kulas, was quoted as saying in the press release. “As our defense relations continue to expand, we are proud to present and share the innovative technologies and systems developed and created by Israeli defense industries and the Israel Ministry of Defense.”

What’s more, the partnership isn’t culminating at IDEX—it’s setting the stage for more to come. Said Kulas, “We plan to hold multiple meetings during the exhibition to discuss new areas of collaboration and are looking forward to bolstering future cooperation with our partners in the UAE.”

The IAI, which is also among the many Israeli companies presenting at IDEX, announced plans to exhibit aircraft and more according to a press release on the IAI website. Boaz Levy, IAI’s President and CEO, was quoted in the IAI press release as saying: “IAI sees our activities in the region as an opportunity to promote cooperation within the regional eco-system and is open to promoting defense as well as civilian endeavors on a range of topics, such as space and satellites, air defense and rocketry, intelligence, robotics, UAVs, cyber etc.”

So while it turns out it didn’t require utopia for Israel to partner militarily with an Arab nation, that collaboration nonetheless is bringing hope for the future. Said Levy, “This exhibition is a harbinger of long-term activity in the UAE and in the region as a whole.”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, February 20, 2023)

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