DUBAI — More than 1,100 exhibitors will be at this year's Dubai Airshow, with an expected footfall of 65,000 visitors over the next week.

The military focus is expected to be as strong as it was in at this year's 's focus on military at the airshow is not expected to be reduced from 2013's edition, especially given two ongoing airstrike operations in the region, one by the international coalition against the Islamic State extremist group in Syria and Iraq, and another by the Saudi-led Arab coalition in Yemen.

"Military-wise, the Dubai Airshow will maintain its image," Maj. Gen. Abdullah al-Hashemi, the UAE Ministry of Defense's executive director of strategic analysis, told Defense News. "The issues in the region right now stress that. The airshow and Air Chiefs Conference is a place where we learn from educationally and economically, as well as it provides us with a platform to enhance our protection levels for our borders."

How to boost the effectiveness of the UAE's military airpower and increase its ability to deal with changing and emerging threats around the region will be one of the topics discussed at the Dubai Air Chiefs Conference preceding the airshow.

"We will be sharing experiences with the other chiefs to get the best solutions," al-Hashemi said.

"I think what the region is going through right now is important," he added. "The opinions and ideas we will hear from chiefs of air forces, executives of companies and decision-makers who can make a difference in the future will be relevant and important to us."

With regional threats evolving, airpower development needs to become more effective.

"In the liberation of Kuwait, airpower was the decisive power because it was fighting against a military force and you could see your enemy," al-Hashemi said. "Right now, it has been hurting the enemy, such as ISIS or the Houthis. It has been effective but not decisive, because the enemy is different, it is not a force that you can see and strike."

He said that this difference required the UAE to come up with ideas to improve its Air Force capability.

In this year's airshow, al-Hashemi stressed that the UAE is trying to find ways solutions on how to make the Air Force more efficient.

"The enemy now uses humans as shields, they go into the cities, they are no longer a tank, you are fighting a different army and a terrorist who is willing to kill anybody so you cannot strike in a city and kill innocent people.

"This is why we need to be more precise when dealing with the target."

Now in its seventh year, the Air Chiefs Conference this year's conference is expected to draw air chiefs from 48 countries and focus on major hybrid threats.

The airshow is is the largest yet, according to Michele van Akelijen, managing director of show organizers F&E Aerospace.

"We have seen growth across a number of areas, including an increase in new exhibitors and increased investment from many returning ones," van Akelijen said.

More than 160 aircraft will be on the static display, including a Boeing P-8 military jet, aircraft from Bell Helicopter and Airbus, and in a first for any international airshow, UAVs will take part in the flying display.

The addition of new sectors, such as the 3-D Print pavilion, the inclusion of the newly formed UAE Space Agency and new conferences have added to this year's lineupthe value the anticipated 65,000 trade visitors will gain from attending. In addition, the return of the Gulf Aviation Training Event (GATE) pavilion and conference and the ever-popular Futures' Day event continue to broaden the show's appeal to all sectors of the aerospace industry.


Twitter: @Awadz

Awad Mustafa is a Middle East and Africa correspondent for Defense News.

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