JERUSALEM — An Israeli defense company has inaugurated a new facility in the United Arab Emirates, and plans to show off a high-energy laser weapon to attendees of the IDEX conference, taking place in Abu Dhabi this month.
The head of Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, Yoav Har-Even, attended the inauguration ceremony with Israeli and Emirati officials, according to a Feb. 16 company news release.
“We are encouraged by yet another concrete step in strengthening Rafael’s ties with the UAE. We can now say that we have built the bridge to the United Arab Emirates by this inaugural investment and are excited to continue to expand the relationships that have been cultivated thus far,” Har-Even said.
The Gulf is a new market for Israel in the wake of the Abraham Accords, which saw the Jewish state improve diplomatic relations with several Arab neighbors.
The company will also exhibit its Iron Beam high-energy laser weapon at IDEX. The technology, designed in Israel, augments the capabilities of the Iron Dome air defense system. This will be the first time the UAE gets a look at the new laser system.
Reports last year said the UAE was seeking to acquire Rafael’s Spyder air defense system. Rafael said the Spyder received upgrades “to allow for the counter ballistic missile capability through an extended range of the Derby LR missile.”
Seth J. Frantzman is the Israel correspondent for Defense News. He has covered conflict in the Mideast since 2010 for different publications. He has experience covering the international coalition against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, and he is a co-founder and executive director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis.