Contractors woo Qatar as maritime defense exhibition opens
Residents living and working near Doha’s Corniche may have spotted an usual number of military boats – and even a submarine – in the harbor over the past few days.
They’ve all sailed to Qatar to take part in the Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition (DIMDEX), which this year is hosting delegations from 53 countries, as well as 20 visiting warships.
The event, which runs from today until Thursday at the Qatar National Convention Center (QNCC), has been held in Qatar every two years since since its inauguration in 2008.
Its organizers say that the exhibition has almost doubled in size this year, from 12,000sqm in 2012 to 21,000sqm in 2014.
On show are technologies designed to help combat piracy; diving and other underwater equipment; and a wide range of warships and vessels including frigates, corvettes, speed boats, minesweepers and a ‘Kilo Class’ Submarine, which is berthed at Doha Port.
The exhibition comes at a critical juncture for companies like BAE, which is hoping that Qatar will choose to buy its Typhoon when it expands its air force with 72 new combat jets. The British engineering firm has been jockeying for its jet to be first choice, along with rivals from the USA and France – Boeing and Dassault Aviation, respectively.
It is not clear when Qatar will make that decision. But officials have indicated other big deals will be signed this week as the country moves to upgrade its maritime security.
Speaking to the Peninsula last month, Assistant Minister of State for Defence Financial Affairs Brig. Dr. Thani Abdul Rahman Al Kuwari said:
“We have plans to put orders for defense equipment as we intend to have more (equipment and naval ships) than what we have. We also have plans to acquire submarines and lots of naval ships.”
The exhibition is for defense contractors and others in the industry, and is thus not open to the public. However, some exhibitors are reaching out to the wider community while here.
Two engineers-in-training from BAE Systems, for example, plan to visit local schools to try to encourage students to take up engineering as a career.
Have you seen any of the ships in the harbor? Thoughts?