DEFEA 2023 – Edge looks at Greece in its move to expand its export footprint

Paolo Valpolini

Looking at increasing the export share of its turnover, EDGE, the UAE leading defence group, considers Greece a point of entry in Europe

After taking part as visitors to the first edition of DEFEA in 2021 EDGE, the major defence group of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), took part in the second edition, within the UAE pavilion. EDR On-Line spoke to Ahmed Alkhoori, the group Senior Vice-President Strategy and Excellence.

“Our participation in the Greek exhibition is very important for us, as Greece is one of the countries that opens the doors for us to collaborate in the European region, as we aim at accelerating our development projects, thanks to cooperation with local Tier 2 and Tier 3 companies,” he said.

Being a small country and relatively new, the UAE also needs experts that can help in speeding up its growth in the defence sector; “These experts can come from Greece or from elsewhere in the region. We are very privileged and honoured that we are one of the countries that attracts talents, thanks also to the environment that we can provide them, and they thanks to their professionalism they help us in transferring technologies and accelerating our efforts. We are a small country, we just reached one million UAE nationals, so we rely on the support and help of our subject matter experts wherever they come from, (whether it be) Europe, North America, South America.”

Mr. Alkhoori underlines the importance of an increasing the EDGE presence on export markets. “The national customer is not enough to sustain the development, considering our dimensions, so we must penetrate the export market, and here the price policy is a key element.”

In Greece EDGE focuses very much on naval issues, autonomous warfare, and small arms, and elaborating on the last topic he underlined that this is one of the areas in which collaboration with a local partner might be key.

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Another field of activities that might be of interest in Greece is that of vehicles. “We aimed at showcasing our Special Forces vehicle to potential Greek customers,” and the LRSOV exhibited in Athens raised interest and generated hope, the EDGE SVP of Strategy and Excellence confirmed. Compared to other areas of activity, reducing considerably prices in the vehicles segment to be as disruptive in terms of prices as in other areas might prove more difficult. “Here cost reductions obtained in other fields are going to be more complicated to obtain, especially when armour is involved. Especially if the customer wants the vehicle to be highly protected, which might lead to using more exotic and expensive material.”

Export is vital for the UAE group, and its presence in the major international exhibitions, in many the EDGE logo appearing for the first time, shows up the determination to become a global player: “last year the company signed a big deal with Angola, and this for us is the testament that we need to expand our presence on export markets. We are already considering acquiring some subsystems from Greek companies, the rationale being that they have an edge in terms of uniqueness, the other being the cost, as this last issue is very important for us,” he underlined, EDGE is targeting disrupting prices.

Speaking in the afternoon of the second day of the four-day exhibition, first impressions were positive; “There is interest specially for autonomous systems as well as for the SF vehicle and small arms,” Ahmed Alkhoori told EDR On-Line confirming the three areas on which Edge focused were the right ones.

“When it comes to collaboration we are open to various solutions, transfer of technology being obviously one of them. Of course this is subject to evaluation and management approval,” the Edge representative confirmed. Asked about possible government-to-government agreements, a formula often used in the business with the Greek Ministry of Defence, the EDGE SVP of Strategy and Excellence told us, “as far as I know there is a strong relationship between the UAE and the Greek governments, at political and strategic levels, and this is something we need to leverage on, especially because any ToT will have to be raised up to the top level, among which we find the MoDs.”

Photo by P. Valpolini