Just before midday yesterday, IDEX 2015 was officially declared open, along with its subsidiary exhibitions NAVDEX and UMEX, in the presence of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
The official opening followed a spectacular live enactment of a fictional terrorist attack on a port facility, which friendly forces managed to suppress amid the staccato clatter of automatic fire, exploding grenades and the scream of Mirage and F-16 fighter jets. As some ‘enemy’ forces tried to sneak into the meleé from the sea, friendly forces rappelled down from a hovering special forces helicopter to capture the enemy boat. Meanwhile, Apache gunships and a range of armoured vehicles and tanks took control of the port, as a last-minute desperate missile launch by the terrorists was also neutralised.
As ‘Al Fursan’, the UAE Air Force’s aerobatic team, streamed green, black, red and white smoke of the national colours in a perfect precision flypast, the packed grandstand applauded. Top-ranking military guests and VIPs in full regalia, with glittering gold braid and medals of rank, provided a counterpoint to the unusually overcast sky.
Nothing could have dampened the spirit, though. A military band entertained the guests as they came in, followed by a colourful cultural display of Arab heritage scenes. The ‘Ayalla and Al Razfah’ groups, who danced to traditional music, have performed at most national social and cultural events in the UAE. To the extraordinary lyrics of ‘Al Taghrouda’ as sung by camel riders of old, Hajana and Khayall demonstrated the role of horses and camels in Arab culture, followed by ‘Al Nahaam’, the traditional pearl divers’ songs. With hooded falcons on their perches, this traditional hunting sport was depicted, while a group of children showed the guests their typical games played in the desert environment.
A precision rifle drill by a visiting honour guard from Belarus and a performance by a South Korean military band in traditional dress highlighted the growing foreign participation in IDEX. From small beginnings in 1993, this important event on the international calendar has grown to 55 nations represented by 1,100 foreign and 180 local companies.
Some 80,000 visitors are expected, attracted by IDEX and the dedicated NAVDEX and UMEX exhibitions.
They have a lot to look forward to.