Houbara is a joint venture between Middle East General Enterprises and the UK’s QinetiQ. The company uses technology to develop sovereign defence capabilities and advancing the national interests of the United Arab Emirates.

The company’s aim is to revolutionize military test and evaluation, enhance military training and secure critical national infrastructure. CEO Tim Allen explained: “We’re starting off delivering service target services for the US Armed Forces. We’ve already provided service for both air defence and naval forces. And then over time, we will transition to doing assembly and then manufacturing, in due course, of our target products. That’s both aerial targets and our maritime surface targets.”

Company has long term growth plans for Middle East

Houbara’s plans are to invest and remain in the Middle East for the long term, unlike many firms who leave after making money. Allen said: “I think the key difference for us is that this is about investment. And as you rightly point out, taking the long view with a joint venture here, it gives us a vehicle through which I mean, not only can we access the full portfolio, QinetiQs, products and services, but also start to develop capacity and capabilities here, and these are capabilities which the UAE in particular is seeking. So, over time, we hope to be hiring Emiratis to work with us and to upskill them and to transfer knowledge.”

Emirati companies are looking to export more to market – and Houbara is no exception. “The UAE is looking to diversify and grow its economy as everybody is,” said Allen. “But for the volumes that we need to make this a commercially attractive proposition, then we do need to look to how we can access other markets in the region. We do already have an existing customer base in QinetiQ’s target systems are sold to about 40 customers worldwide and this will become the regional hub for our target systems and services.”