MIL­I­TARY MIGHT

Qatar Today - - SECURITY > LOCAL -

AT A TIME WHEN ECO­NOMIC STRATE­GIES HAVE GONE ON THE DE­FEN­SIVE, QATAR DOES NOT WANT WEAKER HY­DRO­CAR­BONS TO UN­DER­MINE ITS NA­TIONAL AND RE­GIONAL SE­CU­RITY. ALL THIS UN­FOLDS DUR­ING AN ERA OF HEIGHT­ENED GEOPO­LIT­I­CAL TUR­BU­LENCE IN THE WIDER MID­DLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA, WHERE DE­FENCE SPEND­ING IS EX­PECTED TO REACH $920BILLION BY 2020.

The in­creas­ing geopo­lit­i­cal ten­sions has called for a com­pre­hen­sive re­view of the spend­ing in the vi­tal de­fense sec­tor, go­ing beyond the con­ven­tional eco­nomic ob­jec­tiv­ity --in or­der to en­sure peace and sta­bil­ity, which are the key in­gre­di­ents to en­sure sus­tain­able growth and at­trac­tive in­vest­ment cli­mate for both lo­cal, re­gional and global firms.

Qatar is mil­i­tar­ily ac­tive in Ye­men, where it is a key mem­ber of Saudi Ara­bia-led coali­tion and its main source of weapons and sys­tems has been­from the US, Ger­many, France and Italy. Send­ing strong sig­nals that it was strength­en­ing and mod­ernising its de­fence in­fras­truc­ture, Qatar hogged the global me­dia lime­light at the re­cently con­cluded Doha In­ter­na­tional Mar­itime De­fense Ex­hi­bi­tion and Con­fer­ence (DIMDEX) where it signed QR33 bil­lion worth of deals with com­pa­nies from across the globe.

This comes amidst the crash in oil prices that started in 2014 that has be­gun to re­verse the surge in mil­i­tary spend­ing in many oil rev­enue-de­pen­dent coun­tries. Fur­ther cuts are ex­pected in 2016, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent re­portby Stock­holm In­ter­na­tional Peace Re­search In­sti­tute, an in­de­pen­dent re­source on global se­cu­rity.

“Tra­di­tion­ally the mil­i­tary has not been seen as a pri­or­ity by Qatar's gov­ern­ment. How­ever, the an­nounce­ment of $23-bil­lion worth of de­fense pro­cure­ment projects in 2014 marked an un­prece­dented in­crease in in­vest­ment in the mil­i­tary,” ac­cord­ing to Craig Caf­frey, prin­ci­pal de­fense bud­get an­a­lyst at IHS Jane's Aero­space, De­fense & Se­cu­rity.

For the penin­su­lar coun­try, mar­itime se­cu­rity is of prime im­por­tance. The new Ha­mad Port, which is all set to be­come fully op­er­a­tional by the end of this year, will pro­vide land­ing to its naval ves­sels in ad­di­tion to be­ing used for com­mer­cial pur­poses. Also in view of its off­shore ex­plo­ration as­sets (Qatar has a vast re­pos­i­tory of 900 tril­lion cu­bic feet of nat­u­ral gas), there are a plen­ti­tude of op­por­tu­ni­ties across var­i­ous ver­ti­cals in the coun­try's naval de­fence in­fras­truc­ture, which was ev­i­dent from the par­tic­i­pa­tion of 60 coun­tries at the re­cently con­cluded DIMDEX.

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