DIMDEX: A gateway to the MENA defence market

by  — 11 February 2016

Hosted and organised by the Qatar Armed Forces, the fifth edition of Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference – DIMDEX 2016 – is ready to take place in Doha between March 29 and 31, 2016. Speaking exclusively to The Edge, Brig. Dr. (Eng) Thani A Al Kuwari, chairman, DIMDEX, shares how the biennial event has evolved over the years, and its growing significance as a regional platform to discuss topics relating to trade, business and security.

“The Qatar Armed Forces aims to develop a technically advanced military force to ensure its readiness to meet the challenges of the maritime domain in the 21st century,” says Brig. Dr. (Eng) Thani A Al Kuwari, Chairman, DIMDEX.

What are your expectations for this year’s DIMDEX? Are any countries participating for the first time?

DIMDEX has grown year on year and is now comparable in size and reputation with the largest shows of its type in the world. We expect this trend of growth to continue at DIMDEX 2016, and we have witnessed unprecedented levels of interest being shown by international and local exhibitors across different defence sectors since the event’s launch during International Defence Industry Fair in Turkey in May last year. This growth is reflected through the increase in exhibition space at the Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC).

In 2014, 82 delegations from 58 countries visited DIMDEX, and we are pleased to welcome three new countries – Canada, Finland and the Ukraine – exhibiting
this year.


What would be the major topics of discussion during this year’s conference?

The high-level Middle East Naval Commanders Conference (MENC) is a major component of DIMDEX. The world’s top defence authorities will come together to share their insights about the key factors influencing the maritime defence industry in the region. The theme of this year’s MENC is: ‘The Maritime Domain – The Centre of Gravity for the Regional Security Complex of the Arabian Gulf’. The sea connects all states along the coast of the Arabian Gulf and our expert speakers will explore the diverse range of topics related to its security, not just from a military point of view, but also from security, freedom of navigation around maritime choke points, and environmental security.

With senior military officers, high-level delegations, academics and warship crews attending from a host of different nations, the MENC will help facilitate regional cooperation, as maritime security challenges are most often shared by countries in this region, and they are always debated at MENC in the spirit of military cooperation and exchange of information.


What is the main purpose of organising this event?

DIMDEX is organised for the advancement, prosperity and development of the state of Qatar in line with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. Defence is a huge global industry and by welcoming major defence companies as exhibitors, VIP delegations from over 50 countries, and warships to Doha Commercial Port, DIMDEX has become a key event for Qatar’s meeting, incentive, conference and exhibition (MICE) sector. It strengthens the country’s reputation as a world-class business destination.

DIMDEX has also become one of the most prominent non-tactical achievements of the Qatar Armed Forces and with a distinguished panel of expert speakers, MENC acts as Qatar’s platform for thought leadership in international maritime defence policy and practice.


Moving forward, how does Qatar wish to pursue its goal of fulfilling the needs of defence equipment? Do you plan to encourage the development of more manufacturing and assembling industries within Qatar?

The Qatar Armed Forces aims to develop a technically advanced military force to ensure its readiness to meet the challenges of the maritime domain in the 21st century. Beyond the defence of Qatar’s territorial waters, this capability will allow Qatar to respond effectively to address new threats to security in the region.

We are delighted to see that in addition to the return of defence industry giants attending DIMDEX 2016 as exhibitors, this year is notable for the increased attendance of local exhibitors, which we encourage and support.


Why do you think Qatar is a lucrative defence equipment market? What are the business opportunities available for global manufacturers and suppliers?

DIMDEX 2016 is not just about Qatar, but it acts as a gateway to the often difficult to access maritime defence market of the Middle East and North Africa region, where the studies indicate that deals are on the rise. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries in particular have historically had large defence budgets and been active buyers of the most technologically advanced defence equipment. DIMDEX prides itself on linking exhibitors with the most sophisticated technology with senior defence procurement officials and decision-makers.


Do you foresee any challenges for this sector?

There will always be government-led demand for maritime defence technology as it is essential for protection of sovereign territory, maritime assets and trade routes upon which national economies – and in the case of the GCC – the global economy relies.

The main challenge facing the growth of the maritime defence industry is keeping pace with the ever-changing threats to the security of territorial and international waters. This must be met through the adoption of new technologies, and for the sector to grow, companies must continue adapting and innovating in response to these threats.


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