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Making a killing

Making a killing

Despite a potential nuclear ban, weapons remain big business in the Middle East. But business overall will be better when this industry dies, says Sam Potter.

May 30, 2010 1:13 by

The front page of Sunday’s National prominently – and quite rightly – features the story “UN agrees on a nuclear weapons-free Middle East.”

The story covered an agreement between the 189 signatories of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to a document calling for steps towards a Middle East free of nuclear arms or weapons of mass destruction.

By anyone’s standards, such a move would be good news. The more steps any region in the world takes away from the abyss of using weapons of mass destruction, the better for everyone.

And from a business point of view, stability breeds safety, safety breeds interaction, and interaction breeds trade – peace is good for economies.

Unfortunately, of course, a nuclear ban does not necessarily mean peace and goodwill throughout the region. In fact, the weapons business nowadays is thriving, and the Middle East remains one of its biggest markets.

Also in the news today, for example, was an announcement from Adcom Systems that it plans to launch a high-altitude unmanned aerial vehicle (a drone) that will compete with products from the world’s biggest defense firms. The firm also manufactures ammunition, and is a supplier to the UAE armed forces.

In a special report, the National says the industry in the UAE is in rude health. Adcom, for example, plans to expand its workshops by 4,600 square meters, it says.

“A new generation of defence-related companies are rising up that are well-funded, state-supported and tasked with helping the emirate to realise its 2030 plan by creating highly skilled jobs and a knowledge-based economy,” says the paper.

And, as if to underline the point, the General Air and Missile Defence 2010 expo is currently underway in Abu Dhabi.

Knowing the naturally destructive nature of mankind, and the impulse for profit, I can’t blame weapons manufacturers for profiting from a lucrative business environment.

But in celebrating and promoting the success of the arms industry, we shouldn’t forget that it will be better for trade, industry and business in almost every other sector when the arms industry is dead and buried.

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