Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Monday inaugurated the first arms fair organised in Cairo, with hundreds of companies exhibiting.
Sisi cut the ribbon along with French Defence Minister Florence Parly to open Egypt Defence Expo (EDEX 2018), held on the outskirts of the capital.
Forty countries are represented at the three-day event in Egypt, one of the Middle East’s top military powers, organisers said.
After the opening, Sisi was taken on a guided tour along with military officials of the massive fair, where according to authorities around 400 companies are exhibiting.
Among the items on display are US armoured personnel carriers, Indian and Saudi assault rifles, gold-plated firearms from Pakistan, and models of French-made Rafale fighter jets.
The show highlights the “strength of the country,” said the Egyptian minister for military production, Mohamed al-Assar.
“We are exhibiting our products because Egypt’s military production has its place on the world market,” he told AFP.
The United States, a major ally of Egypt, has the largest number of foreign companies represented.
Defence Minister Mohamed Ahmed Zaki said Egypt was looking to strengthen its security capabilities.
“The army… seeks to acquire strength from its cooperation with countries that value security and peace to roll back all forms of aggression on Egyptian soil,” he said at the opening ceremony.
He later held talks with his French counterpart and the Egyptian president, according to a statement from the Egyptian presidency.
President Sisi “underlined the deep strategic relations between Egypt and France and valued ongoing cooperation across various fields, especially military cooperation,” said the statement.
During their meeting, Parly “affirmed the importance that France attaches to enhancing and strengthening partnership with Egypt at various levels, including the military and security levels,” it added.
Military cooperation between Egypt and France has significantly increased since Sisi took office in 2014.
The following year Egypt signed deals worth six billion euros ($6.8 billion) to purchase 24 Rafale fighter jets from France, as well as other military hardware such as Mistral warships and missiles.
International human rights organisations have long accused Egypt of using weapons made in Europe against civilians to suppress opposition and activists, accusations Cairo has systemically denied.