Visitors look at models of ground vehicles as they visit the Russian pavilion during the International Defense Exhibition (IDEX) at the Abu Dhabi International Exhibition Center on February 20, 2023.AFP
At a separate pavilion at the Abu Dhabi International Defense Exhibition (IDEX), Moscow-based state arms exporter Rosoboronexport said it had more than 200 full-scale models of weapons, ammunition and military equipment.
Russian armored vehicles, attack helicopters and anti-aircraft missile systems were also on display at IDEX, which opened Monday, as tough Western sanctions forced President Vladimir Putin to seek new markets for arms exports.
The UAE remains neutral as Russia’s war in Ukraine approaches its one-year anniversary.
The oil-rich Gulf state has also become a destination of choice for wealthy Russian immigrants fleeing the fallout from Western sanctions.
Russia is one of 65 countries participating in the biennial arms show in the UAE capital, which runs until this weekend and is considered the largest in the region.
Sanctioned Russian Deputy Prime Minister Denis Manturov visited IDEX on Monday, Russian state news agency TASS reported.
“In terms of trade with the Russian Federation, the UAE maintains first place among the countries of the Arab world,” TASS quoted him as saying.
“In 2022, trade between Russia and the UAE will increase by 68% to $9 billion,” he said.
Russia is the world’s second-largest arms exporter after the United States, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
In a statement ahead of IDEX, Rosoboronexport head Alexander Mikheev called the Middle Eastern country an “important partner” and said his company was “working on proposals … interest of”.
Rosoboronexport is preparing to supply reconnaissance and strike drones to foreign partners, he told TASS at IDEX on Monday.
Albert Vidal, a Fulbright scholar at Georgetown University, said that between 2000 and 2019, Russia provided 20% of the Middle East’s arms imports, but the arms market in the Arabian Gulf has always been firmly controlled by American and European companies.
“While Russian companies may try to take advantage of the UAE’s opportunity to find more diverse suppliers, they will not take defense contracts with Abu Dhabi lightly,” he told AFP.
“In addition to traditional Western suppliers, they now face competing arms exporters such as South Korea, Israel and Turkey, all of which already work closely with the UAE defense industry.”
*This story was edited by Ahram Online