UAE crown prince said to visit Israeli pavilion at Dubai weapons show
Powerful leader of Abu Dhabi speaks with Israeli defense firm CEOs, reportedly shows interest in spy and communication satellites
Abu Dhabi’s powerful crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, on Wednesday visited Israel’s pavilion at a major weapons show being held in Dubai.
Al-Nahyan, the deputy commander of the Emirati armed forces, spoke with the CEOs of Israeli defense firms Rafael and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) during the visit at the Dubai Air Show.
The crown prince has shown interest in IAI’s spy and communication satellites, Channel 12 reported.
The Defense Ministry sent an official delegation of Israeli defense contractors to the show this month in a sign of the growing military ties between Israel and the UAE after the two countries normalized relations in the Abraham Accords last year.
Seven Israeli firms, most of them state-owned, went to the defense exhibition in the Emirati capital, one of the premier weapons shows in the world.
Israeli Air Force chief Amikam Norkin also attended the defense exhibition, taking part in a meeting of international air force commanders.
The UAE has reportedly long been interested in purchasing a number of Israeli weapons systems, including the Iron Dome air defense system, which Israel has reportedly only sold to a small number of countries, including the United States and Azerbaijan.
IAI and Israeli defense company Elbit both launched business ventures in the UAE in recent weeks.
Israel, the US, the UAE and Bahrain, also an Abraham Accords signatory, have stepped up military cooperation in recent weeks. The countries are all enemies of Iran and share a growing concern over its activities in the region.
The navies of the four countries launched a joint exercise in the Red Sea last week, and the top US Air Force general in the Mideast said Saturday that the US could hold a joint air drill with Israel, the UAE and Bahrain.
An American envoy said Tuesday at the air show that Washington remained “fully committed” to selling its cutting-edge F-35 stealth fighter jets to the UAE, despite the Biden administration slowing down the deal. Israel is the only regional country that currently operates the jets.
The US recently moved Israel to its Central Command, which oversees the Middle East, from its European Command, signaling Jerusalem’s warming ties with some other Middle East countries.