|By Sujay Mehdudia||Published: November 2017|
Manama. If the attempt was to show Bahrain in the leadership role in the region and project it as a gateway to the Middle East, then the first Bahrain International Defence Exhibition and Conference – 2017 can be termed as successful in this direction. Not only it has reaffirmed Kingdom’s standing in the Gulf region but has also managed position it as an attractive investment destination especially for the military needs of the Gulf and the Asian region.
The exhibition, first of its kind which focused on sea, land and air military prowess of the different companies invested in the region, also gave an opportunity to the coalition partners to redraw their strategy in the region about counter terrorism. The meeting of Bahrain Centre for Strategic and International Studies and Energy (DERASAT) and Middle East Military Alliances and Coalitions (MEMAC) on the sidelines of the conference brought together delegates with military background from Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, UAE, USA, UK, Cyprus, Turkey, Greece and Pakistan.
Held under the patronage of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, the Supreme Commander the three-day event also witnessed a major deal singing between Bahrain Defence Forces (BDF) and US company Lockheed Martin for supply of 16 new technology and state of the art F16s.
BAE Systems, Bell Helicopters (Textron), Thales, Leonardo, Pegasus and Cambli to name a few, were among the other participants.
The entire top line leadership of the Kingdom of Bahrain had left no stone unturned to make the first BIDEC 2017 a big success. Brigadier Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa termed hosting of such a major event in Bahrain as reflecting the aspirations of the wise leadership of the country and demonstrated Bahrain’s competitive advantage as a forum for cultures and civilizations and a place of dialogue and peace. “Bahrain’s hosting of such a big international event for the first time is a classic example of how successful the exhibition industry has become in the country. This will give the Kingdom of Bahrain a foothold on the international map in this vital investment and promotional field with the aim to achieve excellence and produce creative ideas.”
He said what the world is witnessing today is the result of successive events that cast a shadow over regional and international security, highlighting the necessity of military alliances to confront existing challenges and coordinate efforts to make the world a secure place to live.
“It is our responsibility now to play a role in facilitating strategic partnerships and alliances in our common fight against terrorism in the world.”
The exhibition was inaugurated by the Royal Guard Commander and Chairman of the High Organising Committee of the Bahrain International Defence Exhibition and Conference (BIDEC), Brigadier-General Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa on October 16. The three-day exhibition was kicked off in the presence of the Royal Guard’s Special Force Commander, Major Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa, many military officials and visiting Chiefs of Staff.
The defence-expo and conference was organised by Bahrain Defence Force (BDF) and the Middle East Military Alliances and Coalitions (MEMAC) in cooperation with the Bahrain Centre for Strategic and International Studies and Energy (DERASAT).
Apart from this, a major counter terrorism conference was also held by the Bahrain Centre for Strategic and International Studies and Energy (DERASAT) and Middle East Military Alliances and Coalitions (MEMAC) under the leadership of Shaikh Abdulla bin Ahmed Al Khalifa. The Islamic Coalition, as it is referred to, made no bones of the fact that it was clearly aiming at threats from Iran and Qatar who were playing a big role in supporting terror activities in the region which was threatening peace and stability. “The region has been targeted by many threats, such as Iran’s nuclear weapons development, supporting terrorist groups, meddling in other’s affairs and disturbing the peace. Qatar chose to be within the same strategies and plans of Iran. Hence, the role of the military coalitions and alliances in the region is crucial,” he said.
Bahrain Defence Force Commander-in-Chief Field Marshal Shaikh Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Khalifa was the chief guest at the opening session of MEMAC. It highlighted the importance of military alliances, and their role in fighting against extremist terrorist organizations such as “Daesh”, ” Hezbollah” and ” Houthis” that threaten global security and stability.
The MEMAC Conference was organized in conjunction with the Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism and the Arab Coalition in Yemen. There were participants from major international military alliances such as NATO, UN Peacekeeping Operations and international officials and representatives of global think tanks.
Officials told India Strategic at the conference that Bahrain was looking at peace, security and stability in the region, and that BIDEC was one of the many initiatives the Kingdom was taking. The international conference addressed two main aspects: the strategic political perspective of military alliances and the military operational perspective.