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UAE defence exhibitions an opportunity to exchange military expertise: Mohammed bin Rashid

posted on 17/03/2001: 1842 views

The UAE is capable of organising and hosting some of the largest international exhibitions due to its advanced infrastructure and due to the stability and peace enjoyed by the country. These remarks were made by General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and Defence Minister in an interview with the Emirates News Agency, WAM, on the occasion of the IDEX 2001 due to open on Sunday. Following is the full text of the interview:

Q1: The UAE has achieved a good international reputation in organising defence and aviation exhibitions thanks to its success in hosting IDEX and the Dubai Airshow. What are the main factors of this success?

A1: We used to hear about and see several advanced military and aviation exhibitions organised in developed countries such as France or the USA. Nowadays, such exhibitions are also organised in Russia and other European countries. Due to the great distance between the Middle East and these countries we thought that it would be appropriate to organise such exhibitions in the UAE, for a number of different reasons. First, to spare ourselves and other countries of the region the effort of wasting time and money (by sending people to these exhibitions elsewhere), and to provide our armed forces officers and personnel with the opportunity to keep abreast of the latest developments in weaponry and defence equipment. We organised the first exhibition in Dubai in the early 1990s,followed by IDEX in Abu Dhabi which has become a 'Mecca' for companies manufacturing defence equipment. Thanks to God, now we have the confidence, the manpower infrastructure and facilities in the UAE to organise the most specialised and biggest international exhibitions.

Q2: Some might think that organisations of defence exhibitions in the UAE is a call for building up armaments while the world is heading towards peace. Can you comment on this?

A2: The allegations that by organising defence exhibitions the UAE is calling for a build up of armaments in the region are irrational and unrealistic, because those who seek armaments would go and make contact directly with the manufacturing countries without the need for any mediators, advertisements or information. Our exhibitions are a means to acquaint oneself with the latest developments in military equipment, and provide an opportunity to exchange expertise and knowledge. There are also economic benefits for our different service sectors such as hotels, shopping centres and malls, transportation and communications. In addition, the different exhibitions organised in the UAE are considered as bridges that facilitate more contacts and close relationships between different people at all levels. Contacts and dialogue are major factors in consolidating peace, understanding and stability among the different countries of the world. Thisis what we are always seeking, in accordance with the directives of President His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

Q3: Are you satisfied with the level of defence co-operation and co-ordination between the GCC countries?

A3: Yes, we are satisfied and despite the fact that co-ordination is still in its first stages, we have made large strides in this direction and most of the plans and studies have been implemented. I can say that practical co-ordination is under way without delay or shortcomings. Their Highnesses, the GCC leaders, are keen to boost and enhance their countries and people's progress in all fields out of their belief in the importance of common interests and objectives and unity as well as the security, peace and stability of the region.

Q4: The UAE has acquired a special status in the region as it has developed into a regional centre for technology and media companies. What are your plans for attracting more companies in the light of the evolution towards electronic government?

A4: Within the framework of our efforts for development in all fields, we have called for preparations to be made so that we are ready to catch the inevitable express train of Globalisation when it reaches our station. Thereby we will secure our future and maintain our achievements. Hence, we decided to establish the Dubai Technological and Media Free Trade Zone so that our young people can benefit from state-of-the-art information technology. We are determined to finish our march in this direction, and we are confident of achieving our objective in acquiring a prominent place on the global map of media information technology. The Dubai Media and Technology Free Zone has continued to attract more companies since its inception. Its space is now booked and more international companies are looking forward to come and work in the UAE.

Q5: What can be done at the Gulf, Arab and international level to lift the embargo on the Iraqi people?

A5: the issue of brotherly Iraq is a main concern for our Arab leaders and peoples due to the sufferings of its people. Our duty as Arabs obliges us not to accept prejudice and injustice for any brotherly Arab and Moslem or even any foreigner as this is in contradiction with Arab and Moslem traditions and ethics. However, for solving this issue we have to judge ourselves first, and achieve reconciliation as has been called for by President His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. We have to forget our differences and open a new page, get rid of our personal objectives and give priority to our national common interests.

Q6: Do you see any peaceful solution for the issue of the three UAE islands occupied by Iran?

A6: The UAE's three islands, Greater and Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa, are part of our territory and no country has the right to occupy them by force and impose a de facto situation in any area or town which does not belong to them. To solve this issue it is necessary to resort to peaceful dialogue and understanding without any use of force because sooner or later the rights will return to their rightful owners. We, in the UAE, will not accept that we should abuse our neighbours, brothers and friends, interfere in their internal affairs or commit any aggression or hostile act against them. In return we hope for reciprocal treatment as a sovereign state with rights and obligations towards others.

Q7: The Middle East Peace process is heading towards collapse with the advent of Sharon to power. What do you think is the best solution to restore the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and to liberate the Holy places in occupied Jerusalem?

A7: The Middle East Peace Process, brokered by the USA, UN and other Countries, should continue despite all obstacles created by Israel, in order to reach a permanent, just and peaceful solution of the Palestinian issue, after the Arab countries and people have accepted a peaceful and comprehensive and permanent peace in the region. This involves the restoration of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, the establishment of their independent state with Al Quds (Jerusalem) as its capital, the right of return for the Palestinian refugees and the return of occupied Arab territories to their rightful owners. Israel should understand these interests and the trends towards peace in the Arab world, and make the appropriate concessions, so that the Jews can live in peace with their Arab neighbours. Otherwise, Israel and its warlike and bloodthirsty leaders will be mistaken in their calculations, as military power has never been a factor of security, peace or stability. We, as Arabs, should unite ourselves and intensify our contacts with the concerned big powers, in co-ordination with the UN and its Secretary General, to put more pressures on Israel and stop all kinds of economic, cultural and trade co-operation with it. We should also support the Intifada financially and politically as the only way of forcing Israel to make concessions. (The Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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