Turkish defense firms ‘deployed’ in Qatar for better trade

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Currently engaged in wide-ranging military cooperation that expands from operations against ISIL to training soldiers together, Turkey and Qatar are now looking to further tighten defense-industry ties, as dozens of Turkish defense companies flocked to Doha on Oct. 6 to display their new products.

Independent Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association (MÜSİAD) head Nail Olpak said at the opening of the High-Tech Port by MÜSİAD Qatar that developed technologies offer Turkey a chance to escape from the middle-income trap, creating value-added trade.

The event was part of MÜSİAD’s annual event in Turkey last year, but the group has decided to take the fair to other Muslim countries, starting with Qatar before continuing with Saudi Arabia next year and then Kuwait.

“Qatar has doubled its national income in five years, reaching a $201 billion economy,” Olpak said, praising the opportunities lying in the Gulf.

Some 67 Turkish companies and institutions, including Turkey’s leading defense and aviation system producers Aselsan, BMC, Havelsan, Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), Roketsan and THY Technic, opened booths at the fair ground, a rather small venue for a defense fair supported by Turkey’s Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) along with Qatari authorities.

Turkey’s first regional jet, TRJet, was also be exhibited in the fair, as well as BMC’s six large new defense vehicles, and water cannon used to crush street protests.

Ethem Sancak, a Turkish boss active in many fields from the media to defense industries, acquired BMC last year in partnership with the Qatar Armed Forces.

Sancak said on the sidelines of the event that $500 million have already been invested in the company to fine tune its existing assets, while another $500 million are in the pipeline over the next year.

Sancak, who is well known in Turkey for his close ties to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, did not hide his admiration for the Turkish president in Doha.

“Someone once described Mustafa Kemal Atatürk as the leader that organized the nation’s dreams. Now a man who organizes our dreams leads Turkey,” he said.

A Qatari military source confirmed to the Hürriyet Daily News that BMC sits at the heart of military-industrial cooperation between the two states.

Turkish soldiers are due to arrive in Qatar for joint training, the high-ranking soldier said, adding that Qatar “has a lot to learn from Turkey.”

The two countries signed a 10-year military cooperation deal last summer, according to Turkey’s Official Gazette, covering the deployment of Turkish soldiers to Qatari soil and more broadly boost cooperation.

Dr. Mohammed bin Johar, a board member of the Qatari trade chamber, said Turks had come at the right time, when Gulf countries – especially Qatar – are looking for business expansion.

The fair was held under the auspices of Turkish President Erdoğan and Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani. Turkish Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül and his Qatari counterpart, Hamad Bin Ali al-Attiyah, who both spoke at the event, thanked both leaders for their contribution.

“Turkey and Qatar are the two countries that guarantee security and peace in the region,” Gönül said.
The fair will last until Oct. 8.

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