The UAE’s paradigm for success. Despite the fact that the United Arab Emirates has only recently emerged as a state, in less than 50 years the country has come from a backwater, dwarfed by other far larger, more populous, and more influential neighbors, to become a regional and middle power.
Despite the reliance on oil, UAE was from the start open to a diversification of its economy and has proceeded with impressive results.UAE has the most diversified economy in the GCC. Dubai is perhaps the Emirate at the forefront of this effort for diversification. Dubai’s far smaller oil reserves made it bolder in its diversification policy.
From its inception, UAE has been committed to pulling itself up. At the key were large infrastructure projects vaulted the country’s role as a hub, originally of energy, but now growing exponentially in scope. From the start, the country offered a very different view of what an Arab economy should be like. Perhaps due to its strategic location astride the Straights of Hormuz have the people of the land far more cosmopolitan, open to ideas, and visitors, and commercial ties.
The UAE has emerged as a contender as the most influential power in the region, outstripping far bigger, richer, and historically powerful states. A very capable and well-equipped military is part of this. The United Arab Emirates Armed Forces are commonly nicknamed as “Little Sparta” by US Generals, as well as US defense secretary James Mattis due to their active and effective military role, despite the small number of personnel.
This is UAE’s “stick,” that keeps it secure in a very belligerent neighborhood, where saber-rattling often outweighs reason. A large part of the military effectiveness can be credited to the nation’s intelligence mechanisms, able to conduit means and intelligence, bolstering security throughout the nGulf, and projecting into the Indian Ocean.
However, more importantly, UAE is rising in stature because it dares to rely on something other than the “big stick,” as it, wisely, also employs “soft power,” something others regional neighbors cannot even contemplate. It has adapted to the modern financial system remarkably.
It has imported best practices from wherever they were to be found and ingrained them in its systems. It has shown an affinity for technology, which has greatly enhanced all sectors, including the state mechanism, the military, the private sector, and the economy overall.
Much of this drive, centers on Mubadala, the state-owned holding company that can be characterized as a sovereign wealth fund, established in January 2017. The fund, which had a pre-genitor, Mubadala Development Company which merged with the International Petroleum Investment Company, had sought and gained alliances with internationally acclaimed institutions, in efforts to bring cutting-edge tech to UAE, and, under a nre guise, is gaining momentum.
In this role, UAE has become a hub of financial activities in the region, with a host of foreign firms opening up offices and subsidiaries, while many are actually relocating there.
IDEX as “proof of the pudding”.
Perhaps, nothing proves this increasing importance than this year’s IDEX exhibition. It’s not that IDEX and the naval defense and maritime security exhibition NAVDEX) saw deals concluded worth $5.4 billion, with last-minute deals on the fifth and last day alone coming to $109.6 million, according to aawsat.com. defense spending is soaring in the Middle East.
A recent report from IHS Jane’s, published during IDEX, revealed an increase in arms expenditures in the Gulf from $82.3 billion in 2013 to $103 billion in 2019. The IHS forecast sees spending will hit 110.8 billion in 2023.
What makes it the prime among recent defence exhibitions is the fact that IDEX has become for the defence sector, what the Cannes Film Festival is for the Cinema Industry. Not only a market but also a “star” venue. A neutral ground, where all can talk to all.
During IDEX, UAE announced changes allowing indirect offset programmes in a range of sustainability and infrastructure sectors, as well as changing the methods for undertaking investments in the country. Deals were signed within these frameworks to establish a range of excellence centers in UAE. At the same time, the International Defence Conference (IDC) 2019, held 14 to 16 February at Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi, drew the participation of over 1,200 global defence specialists.
Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE’s Armed Forces, his H.H Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who visited the Hellenic Pavilion, during his tour of IDEX2019, has much to be proud of, in hosting this noteworthy event. The desire of Hellenic companies to tie interests with UAE was very much at the focus, of Greek contacts at IDEX 2019.
Being an island of tranquility, in a sea of storms, the UAE provided the most suitable venue for all willing participants. And all were welcome. Strategic adversaries were there to woo customers and form commercial and manufacturing alliances from all over the globe, with all sorts of budgets, with all sorts of needs.
By the way
And the perks. Who would not want a break touring the UAE, with Dubai being the fifth most popular tourist destination, according to a leading travel site?
By the way, UAE is a member of the United Nations, the Arab League, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, OPEC, the Non-Aligned Movement and the Gulf Cooperation Council.