STRONGER TOGETHER

Abu Dhabi 2020 | DEFENSE & AEROSPACE | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Alan Davis, Chief Executive of Raytheon Emirates, on Abu Dhabi's industrial base, cybersecurity, and regional defence.

What drove Raytheon's decision to become an onshore, landed company in the UAE, and what can other defense firms learn from that experience?

Raytheon certainly feels privileged to establish a landed company in Abu Dhabi. We have had a presence in the UAE for over 30 years, providing different solutions and systems in support of the UAE Armed Forces. Our landed company Raytheon Emirates reflects the dynamic business environment that is propelling the UAE and advancing its indigenous capability. This is an exciting opportunity for us to expand our business from beyond sales and marketing to a wholly owned, locally-based company responsible for business creation, market growth and financial results utilizing the Emirati industrial base. We see it as a complement to our existing business, and an entry point to new missions, markets, technologies, and capabilities many of these we cannot possibly imagine today.

What distinguishes Raytheon's experience and approach in the UAE from other markets?

One of the differentiating elements of the UAE market is the fundamental driver of relationships. Relationships here are different and have a deeper meaning versus some business relationships in the US, which can be more at arm's length. In the UAE, it starts with a personal relationship, and from there one enters into business relationships and, eventually, trusted partnerships. We are working closely with the Emirate's defense industry companies. We have close relationships with Mubadala, Tawazun, and other key stakeholders, balancing their perspectives with those of our customers and incorporating all these considerations into our business plan. This is a collaborative market where we work together to grow.

How does Raytheon leverage its global resources to cultivate talent here, and what role do Emiratis play in the company's wider operations?

Raytheon has always prided itself on having an inclusive and diverse workforce. Bringing that to Abu Dhabi and incorporating Emirati talent into our human resource pool has been exciting. Certainly, as an American company doing business here, having a greater Emirati presence helps us understand how to do business in the Emirates. Blending our technologies, experiences, and brand with their cultural expertise has been a powerful tool for us. We have been fortunate to hire several Emiratis in our extended leadership team and will continue to do so as our business expands. They are extremely educated and highly motivated and have been a refreshing addition to our multi-national workforce. The benefit of Raytheon being a global company with strong links to the US is that as we hire Emiratis, we are able to bring them to the US to learn our processes, technologies, and business philosophies. There has been a valuable cross-pollination, with Raytheon giving Emiratis experience in our businesses and our US operations gaining experience from them as well.

What has Raytheon brought to the cybersecurity landscape of the UAE?

When people think of Raytheon, they usually think of our traditional defense capabilities; however, we are a strong cyber-defense company as well. We actually protect .gov and many homeland security-related web domains in the US. Through Raytheon Emirates, we can offer that capability, which has applications beyond the defense sector, to the UAE market. Civil entities ranging from police forces and airport authorities to banking and financial firms are all exposed to frequent cyber attacks. With its layered cyber defense services, Raytheon is capable of serving a range of industries in the UAE. The cyber arena is also a great place for us to recruit, attract, and retain Emirati talent. When we have positions open in the UAE cyber business, the number of local applicants we get and the level of their qualifications is staggering.

What role has Raytheon played in building coherence across the Gulf's regional defense landscape?

It is important for Gulf regional allies to build and have operational coherence for many security and public safety matters. This includes having a degree of mission interoperability and compatibility across the region so systems and solutions can talk to each other. There is commonality in terms of support systems and logistics, and there is a clear benefit from economies of scale. In this regard, our mission systems can provide situational awareness and satisfy the variety of threats faced by allied forces.

What are some of the most exciting areas of innovation and collaboration you are witnessing in the UAE defense sector cluster?

The threat landscape is moving away from traditional domains toward areas like cyber attacks. These will not be seen in the air or on the ground, and they move at an accelerated pace. Similarly, cyber defense has to move at an accelerated pace in order to keep up. Raytheon Emirates is working on developing cyber academies as well as a cyber range, where we give the government the capability to engage threats and to defeat them as they emerge. Beyond cyber, there is a number of outstanding capabilities and technologies in the UAE that are sponsored by Mubadala or Tawazun. Some of the things that Nimr and Calidus are doing, for example, are natural fits that can be blended with Raytheon's offerings. We are exploring the possibility of combining some of our capabilities with other local companies to create indigenously developed solutions that meet demand in the UAE, and even other markets. This is in line with the country's goal to build domestic knowledge and assets.

Is the defense sector here developing a culture of cooperation necessary for export orientation?

It is; the economy is globalizing at such a pace that transactions will become increasingly seamless, regardless of where the products, services, manufacturers, or providers are from. The real value and barriers to entry will come from the quality of collaborations and partnerships. Raytheon has partners across the world. There are few projects we have undertaken solely as Raytheon. This way of doing business gives us access to markets, customer bases, and technologies that we would not have as a singular company. The opportunity for Raytheon to extend that cooperation here with the Emiratis will not only benefit us, but, more importantly, matches up with the goals the UAE has laid out in Vision 2030 – namely, to help develop industries outside of oil and gas and advancing the country's defense capabilities.

How can potential investors in the UAE's defense sector expect to see the landscape evolve over the next few years?

In so many industry sectors and on so many business fronts, the UAE is leaning into innovation as it diversifies its economy. Whether it is cyber or academic, health, water treatment or power, it is a relatively young economy. There are many opportunities to bring in new technologies and capabilities. It is an exciting time for a nation embracing the future. For countries and companies alike, change is a constant. The Raytheon that started 97 years ago is much different today, and the Raytheon Emirates of today will be much different from the one 30-50 years from now.