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The UAE, a major US weapons buyer, is building its own defense capabilities

The United Arab Emirates is one of the top foreign buyers of American weapons, however, the UAE seeks sovereign capability and is investing in building out its own military capabilities. Emirati defense group Edge was created earlier this month and combines 22 private firms with the goal of advancing the UAE’s weapons production industry. The US currently sells billions of dollars of weapons and security assistance to the UAE and other Gulf allies. However, the United States does not supply technologies like lethal drones and the F-35 fighter jet to the UAE and other countries, maintaining tight control over such advanced weaponry to give Israel a military edge in the Middle East.

CEO of Edge Faisal al Bannai stated on Sunday that the UAE aims to ensure sovereign capability over critical technology. Edge will employ 12,000 people, but it remains unclear how much the UAE is investing in the domestic defense program. This Sunday, the UAE displayed new technology such as UAE-made drones and loitering munition. Tensions in the Gulf have been elevated recently after commercial ships were attacked in the Gulf, as well as the downing of an American drone. However, Bannai states that the UAE is unlikely to stop buying weaponry from the United States in the near future.

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