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UAE merges more than 25 defense industry firms into EDGE group

The de facto leader of the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday, November 5, announced the formation of a government-controlled defense industry conglomerate set to become one of the Middle East’s largest.

Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed al-Nahyan, who also commands the UAE’s armed forces, announced the formation of EDGE, which will incorporate 22 private companies and subsidiaries of government-owned Emirates Defense Industries Company (EDIC), Emirates Advanced Investments Group (EAIG) and Tawazun Holding.

Faisal Al Bannai, the founder of Axiom Telecom and former managing director at DarkMatter, a UAE cybersecurity firm, was named EDGE’s CEO and Managing Director due to “his start-up background and proven track record in leveraging emerging technologies to expand business opportunities at home and abroad,” the release read.

EDGE is set to focus on the UAE’s national security at a time when “the digital era creating unprecedented challenges and opportunities,” the release read.

Some 25 drones and missiles struck two major Saudi Aramco oil production facilities in September in an unprecedented and economically damaging attack that has widely been blamed on Iran, though Tehran has denied involvement.

Bannai told CNBC on Tuesday that although EDGE was not formed in direct response to the attack on Saudi Arabia, the conglomerate will aim to introduce non-lethal electromagnetic systems and frequency jammers into the UAE’s defense capabilities.

“The solution to address hybrid warfare, lies at the convergence of innovations from the commercial world and the military industry,” the press release quoted Bannai as saying.

“Established with a core mandate to disrupt an antiquated military industry generally stifled by red tape, EDGE is set to bring products to market faster and at more cost-effective price points,” Bannai said.

The UAE is one of the top purchasers of Western military technology in the Middle East amid a global uptick in military spending, and has worked to develop its own domestic defense industry to reduce foreign dependence.

“EDGE will develop deeper partnerships with world-leading industry” Original Equipment Manufacturers and defense contractors, the Small and Medium Enterprise sector “and academia alike,” Tuesday’s release read.

“Accelerating the rate of innovation, it will also be attracting elite industry experts and talent from around the globe, to help on a wide spectrum of modern product development, ranging from ideation to building cross domain capabilities over its five core business clusters: Platforms & Systems, Missiles & Weapons, Cyber Defense, Electronic Warfare & Intelligence and Mission Support.”

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