ISDEF hopes for Israeli success at Abu Dhabi IDEX defense expo

A massive defense expo planned for late February is taking shape in Abu Dhabi at the National Exhibition Center. IDEX and NAVDEX in the past have attracted more than 1,300 exhibitors and 100,000 attendees from 142 countries, a major showcase for the defense industry and the Gulf. This year, the event will take place from February 21 to 25, and is one of the few major defense expos and large exhibitions taking place globally due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 
Israel’s ISDEF, which is part of the Avnon Group and runs the biennale defense expo in Tel Aviv, is the exclusive promoter of IDEX for Israel’s pavilion. “For the first time in history Israeli companies will be able to participate and exhibit,” ISDEF says. This is a big deal for Israel, because Israeli defense giants, such as Israel Aerospace Industries and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, along with another 40 companies, are expected to attend.
Mati Weinberg, CEO of ISDEF, says his staff is working with marketing and advertising for the important exhibition. “We have 40 companies and exhibitors,” he says. With some 700 square meters initially booked, ISDEF was quick last year to see the potential in IDEX. He says now they have doubled their floor space. ISDEF is the largest exhibitor in Israel since 2007 and it also runs exhibits abroad. It had to cancel last year due to the pandemic, but hopes for an exhibition in June in Tel Aviv. There is expected to be a day of live fire on a range, as in the past, and a conference and other events.
The Israeli pavilion at IDEX is expected to be very large and there is a lot of interest in seeing Israeli technology publicly for the first time in the Gulf. The Abraham Accords, signed last year, have made this possible. Some 130,000 Israelis have gone to Dubai already, but an Israeli airport closure and lockdown have poured some cold water on the thriving new peace and jet setters going back and forth. 
Weinberg at ISDEX says a lot of people are curious about seeing Israeli products and the “start-up nation” and he notes that a medical device company is among those attending from Israel. This is because defense technology is not just about guns and tanks, it is also about artificial intelligence and homeland security, surveillance and also medical technology. There is also interest in cyber, Weinberg says. There is an upcoming Cybertech conference in the Gulf and also GISEC at the end of May. IDEX plays a major role in the constellations of these kinds of events and the hi-tech world of the Gulf, which plugs in well with Tel Aviv’s own hi-tech innovations.
According to reports from the Gulf, the Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (ADNEC) organized a tour for local and international media representatives, in the lead-up to IDEX. ADNEC has implemented measures in cooperation with the Ministry of Defense and the General Command of the UAE Armed Forces. Humaid Matar Al Dhaheri, managing director and Group CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (ADNEC), said that “the beginning of our build-up phase for the internal and external exhibition stands for IDEX and NAVDEX represents the culmination of the significant efforts exerted by ADNEC’s teams over the past few months. Our ability to host this exhibition demonstrates the confidence of the international community in ADNEC’s ability to organize this exceptional edition on schedule. Such confidence is indicated in the participation of the largest defense companies from across the world in this exhibition,” according to Arabian Aerospace media. 
ISDEF’s website about IDEX, says that there are 200 official delegations and 33 national pavilions at the centre. 1,100 media are expected. The exhibitor list on ISDEF’s website is a whose who of Israeli brands. IMCO, which integrates important systems, will be there to showcase its new abilities, Rafael which makes Israel’s Iron Dome, is attending, as well as UVision which makes state-of-the-art loitering munitions. BIRD Aerosystems, which helps defend aircraft and critical infrastructure is coming, along with small arms maker Emtam and drone maker Aeronautics and SK Group which includes Israel Weapons Industries and Meprolight. Meprolite is an electro-optics company that makes sights. Camero, also part of SK Group, makes radar-based imaging systems. All of these companies are at the forefront of Israel’s best defense technology. For instance, Skylock which makes counter-drone technology, will be exhibiting. 
While ISDEF was a step ahead, the lockdown and now airport closure have caused hurdles. In conversations with other companies that are attending it is clear that many are still trying to sort out the logistics of getting to Abu Dhabi. This could also cause hurdles for any officials or other attendees, such as media from Israel. ISDEF and IDEX organizers are nevertheless optimistic about the upcoming event.  


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