Sheikh Mohammed's interview with WAM
Q: How important is Abu Dhabi's IDEX 2003, which will be held in March? It has been 10 years since it was launched.
A: Without a doubt, IDEX is important and its significance increases steadily, as evidenced by the international participation in this exhibition.
The biennial IDEX continues to go from success to success and I congratulate the organisers and hope they enjoy even more success.
Q: The UAE enjoys an international reputation for its success in organising IDEX and Dubai Airshow. What factors have contributed to this success?
A: The most important of these factors is the success of the UAE Federation, which was achieved by the country's wise leadership led by President His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
Another factor is the UAE nationals' ability to achieve success in projects at various levels, which has led to the country's security and stability and has won it the confidence of international and regional countries. Add to these our country's strategic location, its balanced ties with the world's countries, its support for just issues, its defence of Arab rights above all and its humanitarian initiatives.
The UAE is like a tree that has been protected by its leadership so that it will grow strong and bear fruit in abundance. The success in organising exhibitions and the international reputation are some of these fruit.
We abide by the words of Allah - “And say, ‘Work, Allah will see your work and so shall his Messenger and the believers.'” ? we work with good intentions and success always comes from Allah.
Q: What preparations have been made for the Dubai International Airshow 2003?
A: The preparations are complete. We take preparations for events as important as this very seriously. We started preparing for Airshow 2003 before Airshow 2001 had finished. As you know, the show was first held in 1989. It was first held 14 years ago and it continues to prove itself on the map of international exhibitions.
We have doubled our responsibilities and efforts to ensure that this year's show is more successful than ever and that it attracts more participants and visitors than the previous ones.
We measure success in terms of additional activity and we hope the show will be a big success despite the atmosphere of war in the region.
Q: Some think that holding exhibitions like IDEX and the Dubai International Airshow encourages the arms race ? what is Your Highness' opinion?
A: I'm sorry to say that this is naive. Those who believe this lack an understanding of issues related to arms and the budget for arms. Do countries plan their defence policies at exhibitions? Does anyone think that defence officials go to exhibitions with no idea of their actual requirements? In any country, the decision to purchase arms stems from the country's defence policy, which dictates the quantity and quality of weapons needed.
Arms purchases are also based on a long-term plan in which flexibility is important because of changes in defence strategy and in the weapons industry, which is very fast paced, particularly in terms of the developments in IT and satellite telecommunication.
We are now living in the age of the digital weapons, which adds to the responsibilities of those in charge of arms in all countries.
For these reasons, it is important to hold defence shows like Abu Dhabi's IDEX and the Dubai Airshow to give experts and officials the opportunity to gain firsthand knowledge of the latest defence and aviation products. This keeps them up-to-date and allows them to compare products in terms of cost, model and quality.
Q: Are you satisfied with the level of cooperation amongst the GCC states in terms of defence?
A: If one compares the current situation with that of 1981 when the AGCC was formed, then yes, a lot has been achieved. But our ambition is to have more cooperation and collaboration. Our ambition is for the AGCC countries to be entirely self-sufficient when facing challenges and dangers.
Q: The UAE has turned into a regional hub for the new economy and for IT companies. How do you plan to attract more such companies to Dubai Media City?
A: Believe me, what has been achieved in terms of IT has surpassed expectations and made us very happy. But it has also forced us to revise our expectations upward for the next stages in the fields of IT and media as well as for our new projects. Whenever your expectations are high, you have to make more effort and pay more attention to innovations and excellence.
But our plans are heading in the right direction and, thanks to Allah, implementation meets our high expectations.
Q: Do you believe Iran's occupation of the three UAE islands of Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs will be resolved peacefully?
A: The UAE does not consider anything but peaceful means of resolving the crisis of the three islands. The UAE's position is very clear and Sheikh Zayed has defined it since the formation of the UAE and confirmed that position in his initiative to resolve the crisis and this has become one of the bases of the country's foreign policy.
Of course, we hope a peaceful resolution will be reached soon, particularly after exchanging visits and letters with senior officials in neighbouring Iran.
Q: Do you think that the Arab countries are capable of setting up a joint defence industry to meet their defence needs and minimise the dependence on foreigners?
A: Theoretically, Arab countries are capable of setting up a joint defence industry that could meet some, not all, of their defence requirements. This is a nice dream and a precious hope but for the most part the conditions necessary to achieve this dream do not exist.
You know that the arms industry is unlike any other industry. It has strategic, political and security aspects and the relations between Arab countries hamper Arab cooperation in an arms industry.
Also, many advanced industries, of which the arms industry is one, require scientific infrastructure and specialised research and development centres.
Of course, this does not mean we should wait until we have perfect conditions. Any Arab country, or even two or three, could establish a defence industry - we would be pleased. Countries like Egypt have a defence industry and many countries manufacture ammunition and guns.
A joint Arab defence industry is the ambition of all Arabs. Arabs have experienced the Arab Organisation for Industrialisation which did not last long for strategic and political reasons, but Arab cooperation in the domains of the economy, commerce and education remains an option, even though it is still on the waiting list.
Let us cooperate in terms of producing food and when we have succeeded in this area it will be easier for us to talk of a joint Arab defence industry.