Thales to expand footprint in Qatar, Mideast

 25 Mar 2014 - 9:07


Doha: Thales, a global technology leader in aerospace, transportation and defence and security markets, is planning to expand its footprint in Qatar and the Middle East through subsidiaries, partnerships and joint ventures (JVs).
“We have identified a number of potential contracts in the coming years. To address the region’s needs, we are looking to enhance our industrial footprint, to develop talents and to initiate innovations,” said Pascale Sourisse (pictured), SEVP, International Development of Thales. “We currently have around 1,200 people in the Middle East, but we still want to expand locally through subsidiaries, partnerships and JVs. A very good example is our partnership with Qatar University to support the human development needs of both Qatar and Thales,” she said.
Thales was established in Qatar in the early 80s, and it has been working closely with the Qatari armed forces since then. In 2012, it was awarded a contract to modernise the electronics of the four Qatar Emiri Naval Forces Barzan-class fast attack vessels. Thales is also a key partner of the Air Force and the Army.
“We originally focused on defence equipment but, over the last few years, we have extended our footprint in various other areas including security for critical infrastructures, space, rail and air transportation,” Sourisse said. “For instance, Qatar Airways and Thales jointly opened a technology research, development and training centre at the Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP). Together, we set up a technical laboratory to develop expertise on In-Flight Entertainment and Connectivity (IFEC) systems,” she said. She added that Thales wants to be increasingly present locally, with the objective of serving the country’s interests and Qatar National Vision 2030.
IHS Jane’s is forecasting around 7 percent annual growth for defence expenditures in the Middle East, from now to 2017. In addition, there are strong needs in the field of security (urban security, cyber security. In case of air traffic, IATA plans sustainable world-wide expansion, and last year observed growth of more than 11 percent in the Middle East. In the rail sector, UNIFE forecasts yearly investments of around $12bn in the Mena, with annual growth of about 5 percent.
“Market fundamentals are good and the needs directly correspond to what Thales can offer in the defence, security, aerospace, space and transportation domains. It is a key region in our development strategy. Our objective is to significantly develop our industrial footprint in the Middle East,” she said.
Innovation is in the DNA of Thales, a high-tech corporation which dedicates 20 percent of its annual revenues to research and development. “We want to bring innovation closer to our customers and promote dialogue with them on new developments. This is why we have decided to launch a Thales innovation hub in Qatar, a strategic country for the Group,” she said. “We are beginning by developing expertise in cyber security and In-Flight Entertainment,” she added.
In November 2013, Qatar University and Thales signed a MoU for the academic development, research and training of future Qatari professionals.
In 2013, the company generated revenues of €14.2bn with 65,000 employees in 56 countries. Thales had a very good year in 2013, with orders from emerging markets rising 30 percent to €4.57bn. We signed 19 large contracts above €100m, 10 of which were within the emerging markets. Among these 10 large contracts, seven were signed in Mena. 
The Peninsula