| ABU DHABI
ABU DHABI The Middle East’s largest arms expo ended on Thursday with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announcing it had spent a record amount at the event, signaling continued spending on defense in a region where security is of rising concern.
At 18.33 billion dirhams ($5 billion), the total for deals signed with local and international companies by the Gulf Arab state was the highest at the International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) since the event began in the early 1990s.
It was also up 30 percent on the previous event in 2013.
This spending comes despite a declining oil price putting pressure on government spending across the Gulf region and reflects regional political instability, particularly in Iraq and Syria. The UAE is one of the nations undertaking bombing runs against Islamic State targets.
"It is according to the requirements of the armed forces, which is increasing," Obeid al-Ketbi, chairman of the organizing committee for the IDEX event in Abu Dhabi, told reporters, adding the quality of the requirements was also different to previous shows.
One of the last to be announced at the biennial event was a 2.27 billion dirham deal with Boeing for the purchase of two C-17 military transport planes.
Other contracts announced during the week-long event were a 3.75 billion dirham deal with Airbus and Thales to purchase two satellites and their land control stations, and a 732 million dirham contract with AgustaWestland to buy nine AW139 helicopters.
The event witnessed around 1,200 companies from 55 countries showcase their military wares.
(Writing by David French; Editing by William Maclean and David Holmes)