DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The world's two largest defense companies are expanding their presence in the United Arab Emirates, in what both firms describe as a sign of the regional market's growing importance.

Lockheed Martin used the Dubai Airshow to announce the opening of a permanent chalet on the flightline at Dubai World Center, the location of the show. The three-story structure was officially commissioned on Monday by Lockheed CEO Marillyn Hewson.

The move "underpins the strength and depth of the company's partnership with the UAE and the wider Gulf region," the company said in a statement.

On Sunday, Boeing announced plans to establish its Middle Eastern headquarters in Dubai South's Aviation District. The goal is to open the center for business by the end of 2017. The complex will involve the headquarters, a spare parts warehouse, a distribution facility and a maintenance training facility to service the region, according to a press release.

"This agreement demonstrates Boeing's commitment to our customers in the region and support for the Dubai government's vision for Dubai South," Boeing president and CEO Dennis Muilenburg said in a statement.

Both firms have increasingly focused on foreign sales in recent years to bolster flat domestic US sales for military equipment.

Focusing on foreign sales is a smart move, said Remy Nathan, vVice pPresident of iInternational aAffairs with the Aerospace Industries Association.

Foreign sales "matter more than ever" for firms, Nathan said, who added that, while there have been few major announcements at this year's Dubai Airshow, there have has been significant numbers of meetings about potential sales for US firms going on in the background.

Twitter: @AaronMehta