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UAE Hires DynCorp To Advise Local Maintenance Firm Print
By RIAD KAHWAJI, ABU DHABI, UAE - 26.2.2007

Here’s how the United Arab Emirates is working to improve its ability to maintain its military vehicles: It has founded a company and hired U.S.-based DynCorp to teach it.

The company is the brand-new Al-Taif Technical Services, which has been created to take on the job of performing depot-level maintenance work on the “engine, body, hull, electronics, mechanics, hydraulics for both fighting platforms and nonfighting platforms, including jeeps, trucks, fuel tankers, tanks or whatever,” said Al-Taif chief executive Cyril Asaad Arar.
 
In January, the state-owned investment firm Mubadala Development signed a seven-year, $165 million contract with DynCorp, which will provide senior managers for Al-Taif and train lower-level staff to provide the maintenance work and run the business, said Michael Herrington, senior vice president of DynCorp International.

If the idea works, company leaders hope to win foreign contracts for maintenance services.

“We have sophisticated infrastructure, topped with the dedication, vision and support of all those involved to make this a successful program,” Arar said. “We mainly want to make this a success, to emulate this to expand.

“We also have suited facilities and infrastructure to support the needs of any customer, and if we have somebody in a neighboring country that would like to use our services, then there will be room for cooperation.”

The UAE government is aiming to expand the industrial base and create jobs for its citizens.
“One of the things we have to do under the contract is to nationalize much of the operations. There are many expatriates working here, while many UAE nationals aren’t,” Herrington said. “One of the things we agreed to during the negotiations was that by the end of the seven-year DynCorp contract, we will have passed along enough know-how such that 40 percent of the work force will be from the UAE.”

Al-Taif has leased the military training school in Zayed Military City here. Among DynCorp’s tasks is getting the school accredited in the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf Cooperation Council countries.

Only uniformed officers now are working or studying at the military training school, and since it is not accredited, it cannot issue certificates that can be used outside the gates of Zayed Military City.
“So if you go to a professional development force, it’s only good if you’re wearing a uniform, Herrington said. “But without the certificate that states that it is an accredited teaching institute, then it does you no good once you leave the service.”

Building Up Local Industry

Al-Taif is just the latest venture created by Mubadala, a public joint stock company, which has also created several other firms.

Established in 2002, Mubadala was set up to create new companies and acquire strategic holdings in existing ones in the United Arab Emirates and abroad in order to create and sustain economic benefits for Abu Dhabi.

The UAE military has begun to encourage the creation of such ventures as part of its strategy.
“The UAE Armed Forces has steady cooperation with the UAE Offsets and Mubadala,” said Maj. Gen. Obaid Al-Ketbi, the military’s chief of logistics. “We always look at the country’s technological needs and we try to accommodate it within the defense contacts.
“Our defense agreements have usually produced big industrial projects that service the military or the civilian sectors in the country. We have had a great success in our strategy for the transfer of technology to the country. We are working very closely with the private sector to build the industrial sector in the UAE.”

The DynCorp contract could become a model for Mideast partnerships, DynCorp Chief Executive Herb Lanese said.

“All providers of service to governments in the Middle East can only effectively partner when value is transferred that’s more than the direct work being performed. That means passing on knowledge of the skills being employed so they can become a part of the infrastructure of the country being served,” Lanese said.

Most of the military’s deals reached at the recent International Defense Exhibition and Conference here last week went to local companies created as joint ventures with foreign companies. •
 
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