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The Middle East’s largest defence and security exhibition takes place early next year. Here’s why all eyes will be on the United Arab Emirates this February.

The first quarter of next year sees the 10th edition of the largest tri-service defence and security event in the Middle East and North Africa region take place in Abu Dhabi.

The International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) 2011 will feature over 900 international manufacturers and suppliers showcasing their latest defence technology, systems and equipment at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) on 20 – 24 February 2011.

Since its inaugural event in 1993, the popularity of IDEX has continued to rise. Established as a globally recognised tri-service defence exhibition held biennially in the United Arab Emirates’ capital city, year-on-year, the exhibition attracts a growing number of international and key military and government representatives.

The event facilitates manufacturers and suppliers of defence and security technology in securing contacts and contracts within the Middle East and surrounding regions.

“We have seen IDEX grow from strength to strength since its inauguration some 17 years ago. 2011 will be our largest yet, as decision makers from all over the world come to investigate the very latest in defence and security technology.” said Mohamed Al Mashgouni, IDEX 2011 Show Director.

The previous edition of IDEX took place in 2009, during a period in which a substantial number of nations were in recession. Nevertheless, the exhibition enjoyed one of its most successful runs to date, occupying 108,000 square metres (gross) of event space including exhibition stands, outdoor displays and live demonstration areas.

Officials announced 50,000 attendees to IDEX 2009, including 150 official delegations that attended the official opening ceremony and participated in tours of the exhibition. Attendees came from 97 different countries with 52% coming from the UAE; 5% from the USA; 4% from the UK and 3.5% from Saudi Arabia.

In 2009, IDEX saw contracts worth billions of dollars signed between exhibitors and governments from numerous countries, with the UAE Armed Forces announcing deals worth over US$ 5Bn. Investment from the UAE in land defence systems reached over US$ 830M, with major deals for Euro-Art International (US$ 243m), Signal Systems (US$ 42.7M), Rheinmetall Defence Electronics of Germany (US$ 177.2m), Patria of Finland (US$ 55.8n), General Dynamics of Canada (US$ 30.5m), Local Advanced Integrated Systems Company (US$ 117.8m ) and Thales of France (US$ 55.8m).

With economic data suggesting that most nations have entered a recovery phase, IDEX 2011 remains a regional event that is in high demand. In fact, it is expected that the 2011 edition will surpass all records of signed contracts secured at previous shows.

According to Jane’s Defence, a 20% increase in GCC defence spending is expected from 2010 to 2014 (from US$ 52.4Bn to US$ 62.9Bn). Proportionally the strongest growth will be in the UAE and Kuwait, with a 23% increase expected in defence spends for both countries. Strong economic growth, continuing regional security concerns and the desire to develop indigenous capabilities through the use of offset are the driving factors behind such strong growth projections.

Regular IDEX attendees such as India, China and the GCC nations are expected to become increasingly important consumers for advance land defence systems. These nations are increasing defence budgets to modernise their ground forces particularly in key areas such as armoured vehicles, battle tanks, anti-armour and anti-air missile system and are promising to be the fastest growing markets among emerging economies.

The 900+ exhibitors who are expected at IDEX 2011 will represent over 50 countries from around the world. 31 country pavilions have confirmed their participation at the 2011 anniversary edition.

So who can we expect to

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