Military and Strategic Journal
Issued by the Directorate of Morale Guidance at the General Command of the Armed Forces
United Arab Emirates
Founded in August 1971

2016-03-01

SAFRAN TO STRENGTHEN MIDDLE EAST PRESENCE

Industrial giant Safran has a large and respected presence in the Middle East, especially in Abu Dhabi. But there’s plenty more to come, and in a big way. Safran solutions span everything from border security solutions to space travel to biometric technologies. Patrick Natali, Safran’s General Delegate for Middle East explains.

By Sakha Pramod
 
One of Safran’s primary goals is to make life safer and easier for everybody - and you offer identity management. SafranMorpho recently signed a major deal with the UAE for biometric technologies. How is it progressing?
The progress is quite good as there are more and more airports where the goal is to be equipped with the latest cutting edge technology in this specific field of interest and Morpho, world leader for these kind of products, delivers the right answers to the UAE’s strategic requirements. The e-border security and passengers facility is indeed a serious issue and we know the importance of Abu Dhabi Airport to which we are paying huge attention.
 
Safran also offers hazardous substance detection systems, along with the management of digital identity and smart transactions. Do you have any commercial requests in this area from the GCC countries?
The main focus of the GCC countries, in addition to being provided with a high level of security, is to manage the borders interfaces and offer a global security network in these particular domains. The UAE appears as the main showroom for the other GCC countries and our Morpho main regional office is naturally located at Abu Dhabi. 


 
A world-renowned industrial concern, Safran supplies engines and equipment to all main producers of civil and military airplanes and helicopters. How do you see the Middle East as a market for you?
This is for sure a booming market and Safran, based on its OEM and Tier-1 supplier assets. We are currently dealing with the best local partners to identify and develop the right partnerships to meet all operational and strategic requirements - whatever the domains addressed, civilian or military. The Middle East has always been a strategic military partner for Safran through the support of various platforms such as Mirage 2000, Leclerc char and rotary wings aircraft. Moreover, the recent sales of Rafale, NH90 and EC725 helicopters, plus other defense products for which Safran is a major partner, confirm the mutual trust between the Middle East Air Forces and the French manufacturers.  Our global action also falls in with the economic and diversification of the UAE through the Abu Dhabi vision plan. 
 
Rocket propulsion has been a core strategic objective at Safran for a number of decades. UAE has invested in a big way in space sciences. What do you have to offer to the UAE in this area to meet current needs?
The UAE roadmap in space sciences certainly offers a true opportunity for Safran and the evolution of the global aerospace summits where Safran participated in 2012 and 2014 gives the trend in this domain for which Safran remains sensitive and attentive.  Through our existing assets such as Ariane 5 launcher and its successor Ariane 6 to come, and our contribution in key technologies such as cryogenic propulsion, solid propulsion, inertial reference unit, we can position ourselves and take a more active part in the new UAE market. This is leveraged to another dimension thanks the creation of the ASL (Airbus Safran Launchers) joint venture. 
 
Safran offers innovative systems and equipment for armies, navies and air forces from around the world. In a market like GCC and the Middle East generally, where the dominant players are from the US, how competitive can Safran be?
Of course, the US has a dominant position in many global military markets. However, Safran relies on its world and European leader position for the products proposed to the customer, for which one main asset is ITAR free, which allows the customer to completely benefit from a more appropriate and efficient supply chain. Such assets appear to be more and more essential in the global security context we are currently facing. They are essential for urgent requests to face global terrorism or security at the borders. These requests can be therefore processed with the best reaction time when it concerns an ITAR free equipment as we don’t have to go through US rules to deliver the equipment.

One of major concerns of the governments in the Middle East and around the world today is to ensure homeland security to combat terrorism. Have you addressed this and how can you join hands with the security agencies to deal with this issue?
We address this sensitive issue and we focus therefore more and more on our fundamentals and core business to answer with the most accurate solutions to meet the needs of the governmental entities. These entities take an active part through a joint workshop-based approach where we can provide and sensitize them to concepts of new technology to answer to their needs.
 
Do you have any joint ventures in this region and is transfer of technology part of your business proposition?
We have developed some joint ventures, in security, military and civilian domains. In internal security, we have developed Eimass, a joint venture between Safran and Abu Dhabi Police. The ongoing Abu Dhabi vision Plan 2030 is to diversify the economy and rely less and less on resources from oil.  One of the pillars and priorities of this Abu Dhabi Vision Plan is to sustain the development and employment of UAE nationals. From this point of view we have contributed to train more than 700 UAE nationals through Eimass.  
For aerospace, we have strong and efficient joint ventures for decades.  One of the strong partnerships is CFM International, a 50-50 joint venture between Snecma (Safran) and General Electric. And we have now renewed this partnership for the next 40 years taking into account the LEAP engine, the new successor of the CFM engines. This new engine is better in terms of reduction in costs. In fuel consumption it is to be more eco-friendly as our goal is also to develop a green footprint.  Through this partnership we provide engines for the single aisle commercial aircraft. To give you an idea of our global presence, every two seconds when an aircraft takes off it is with our engines. 
 
From a military point of view, we are interested in developing strategic partnerships with EDIC to define the appropriate and best solutions to meet the UAE Armed Forces’ requirements. 
Future plans?
Safran’s future plans are to improve and strengthen its current industrial footprint in the UAE. When we are talking about diversification of the economy here, Safran first of all is a leading industrial group.  So based on the needs of the UAE and on our core business, we are ready to strengthen and develop our presence and provide appropriate solutions to match those requirements. 
Another extremely important pillar in the UAE economy is the development of a well-trained society and Safran identifies the needs for a more prosperous youth in term of education and training. It is important for industrial groups like us, where our Safran University is committed in such development, to be able to provide the right solutions, offering not only technical but also leadership management programs.
 

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