ABU DHABI: Anticipating the risk scenarios of tomorrow, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has launched a new defence conglomerate-EDGE-for researching and developing advanced technology for weapons systems, cyber defence and electronic warfare.
EDGE, combining more than 25 government-owned and independent companies, was inaugurated on November 5 in Abu Dhabi by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
“The defence industry has become outdated, cumbersome and driven by an obsolete world view. We know that in a world full of asymmetric threats, unconventional solutions make the greatest difference to enhancing our safety and security,” Faisal Al Bannai, CEO and Managing Director, EDGE said.
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.
“Our mission is simple…to bring advanced technologies and services to the market with great speed and efficiency,” Al Bannai said.
“EDGE will invest extensively across R&D, working closely with front-line operators to design and deploy practical solutions that address real world challenges,” Al Bannai added.
The first phase of EDGE’s formation will bring together government-owned Emirates Defence Industries Company, Emirates Advanced Investments Group and Tawazun Holding, among 22 other companies.
“The main objectives of EDGE are to both ensure the UAE had a sovereign ability to protect itself as well as develop its knowledge economy for when the last barrel of oil runs out,” Al Bannai, formerly a managing director at UAE cybersecurity company DarkMatter, said.
“As of today the total turn over of EDGE is about USD5 billion, and we plan to grow organically,” he said.
EDGE now represents 12,000 employees, who work across 25 companies in five clusters— platforms and systems, weapons and missiles, cyber defence, electronic warfare and intelligence, and mission support.
In contributing to innovation and advanced technology growth, EDGE will develop deeper partnerships with world-leading industry OEMs and defence contractors, the SME sector and academia alike.
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 Defence, Electronic Warfare & Intelligence, and Mission Support.
With the digital era creating unprecedented challenges and opportunities, EDGE is positioned to disrupt capabilities across a wide breadth of industries. Starting with break-through innovations in the high investment defence sector, and with a priority on national security, EDGE is consolidating more than 25 entities, including subsidiaries from the Emirates Defence Industries Company (EDIC), Emirates Advanced Investments Group (EAIG), Tawazun Holding, and other independent organisations.
“The solution to address hybrid warfare lies at the convergence of innovations from the commercial world and the military industry,” he said.
According to Al Bannai, EDGE will help the UAE military in quickly getting both the software and hardware that are needed to repel local threats.
The chief executive added that the conglomerate would look to bring non-lethal weapons such as frequency jammers and electro-magnetic systems under the same umbrella as radar technology and missile manufacture.
“The company is set to implement advanced technologies such as autonomous capabilities, cyber-physical systems, the Internet of Things, advanced propulsion systems, robotics and smart materials, with a focus on artificial intelligence across all its products and services,” he said.
Commenting on EDGE, Tareq Abdul Raheem Al Hosani, Chief Executive Officer of Tawazun Economic Council (the UAE’s Defence Enabler) said: “We are invested in managing the uncertainty that technology brings by adapting our focus and capabilities towards a sustainable defence and security industry. EDGE will help us transform our domestic capabilities, while growing our engagements on defence and security exports.”
By Jay Menon
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