Qatar, Italy sign JV for weapons production project, says envoy
March 13 2018 10:10 PM
Italian ambassador Pasquale Salzano and Admiral Valter Girardelli, chief of the Italian Navy. PICTUR
Italian ambassador Pasquale Salzano and Admiral Valter Girardelli, chief of the Italian Navy. PICTURE: Shemeer Rasheed.

Qatar has signed an industrial joint venture (JV) agreement with Italy for the establishment of a weapons production facility in Doha at the three-day Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition & Conference (Dimdex) 2018, which concludes on Wednesday.

The JV was signed by officials of Beretta Group and Barzan Holdings, according to Italian ambassador Pasquale Salzano, who spoke to reporters on the sidelines of a press conference held on board the ITS Carlo Margottini at Hamad Port.

“I would like to underline that the agreement is extremely important because it is the first time that this type of joint venture was established in an Arab country and Beretta chose Qatar for this project,” Salzano pointed out.

During a presentation, Carlo Festucci, secretary general of AIAD, a federation that represents the Italian Federation of Italian Companies for Aerospace, Defence and Security, said the project will address the weapons and equipment requirements of Qatar’s Armed Forces.

“The Beretta Group and Barzan Holdings have pooled their resources to launch a joint industrial project in Qatar in order to meet the requirements of the Qatar government’s Armed Forces to be equipped with state-of-the-art individual armaments.

“The project will see the setting up of a JV called ‘Bindig’ (Qatari term for rifle), which will benefit from the transfer of Beretta’s technology and the construction of a new industrial plant in Doha for the production of assault rifles and handguns, and where new weapons systems will also be developed.

Festucci also said Italian firm Fincantieri has lined up several development opportunities in Qatar such as a tender for a new naval base and for research and development, delivery, and test of Unmanned Fast Patrol Boat.

“Fincantieri and its subsidiaries, Seastema, will define a co-operation agreement with Barzan Holdings, established by Qatar's Ministry of Defence to develop the necessary technology on the Unmanned Vessels and the relevant Shore Control Station…Fincantieri will also participate to a tender for design and construction of civil infrastructures, including buildings in co-operation with other important and specialised local partners,” Festucci said.

According to Salzano, other agreements between Qatar and Italy are slated to be signed today at Dimdex. Though he declined to provide further details of the agreements, the ambassador said: “What we will sign will, again, show the level of extremely high co-operation between Italy and Qatar.”

During the press conference, it was announced that the ITS Carlo Margottini, a European multimission frigate (FREMM), will conduct a Passage Exercise (Passex) with the Qatari Emiri Navy tomorrow.

“The idea to train together will be another example of how to conduct search for vessels in order to identify if the vessels are clear and are carrying legal personnel and material,” Rear Admiral Danilo Balzano, executive officer to the Chief of the Italian Navy, told Gulf Times.

In his speech, Admiral Valter Girardelli, chief of the Italian Navy, said: “In the current scenario, where the high seas are infested with illegal activities, more than ever the Navies should multiply meeting opportunities and experience-sharing, with a view to creating a network, even virtual, in order to exchange useful information enabling global maritime situational awareness, to be able to effectively intervene when required.

“In the conduct of these surveillance and information-sharing activities, the tasks of our crews and personnel operating in command and control centres are facilitated and eased by advanced technological tools produced and constantly upgraded by defence industries.”

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