HRH Prince Feisal Bin Al Hussein on the importance of SOFEX.
Jordan hosted the toughest and most highly trained special forces from around the world for SOFEX again in May. In this exclusive interview, the chairman of the SOFEX board, HRH Prince Feisal Bin Al Hussein, which was published one month ago in our annual investment supplement; The Journal, explaining how the twelfth edition of the exhibition focused on the way fighting forces are increasingly relying on unconventional methods to confuse and outwit their opponents.
Ever since its establishment over two decades ago, the Special Operations Forces Exhibition and Conference—or SOFEX as it’s more commonly known—has acted as a high profile showcase for Jordan’s elite soldiers and their counterparts from other militaries around the world.
Could you please tell us more about the central theme of this year’s SOFEX?
The title of this year’s Middle East Special Operations Commanders Conference (MESOC) is ‘Hybrid Warfares in the Global Gray Zone – Ever Changing Operational Environment’ and it aims to develop a skilled and innovative special operations forces to beat the modern challenges and raise awareness of threats that cannot be defeated solely by the employment of conventional forces.
Recent events around the world continue to take interesting turns in a multi-echelon complex environment, in which ongoing warfare is constantly changing. As a result, the defense and security industry calls for measures to be taken against this new form of warfare, called ‘hybrid’ or ‘gray zone’ wars. Regardless of the terminology, the concept of their strategies is the non-traditional, unconventional use of technologies to conduct war, without entering an open conflict.
A comprehensive understanding of the hybrid warfare theory empowers countries to efficiently and effectively develop and refine their military forces for operations in such complex environments. Therefore, it is important for us to further discuss this concept, align doctrine against it and ensure proper posture to counter the threats it poses, thus fulfill our perpetual theme of networking for global security.
What are the expected number of participants in this year’s exhibition and conference?
There bas been a steady rise in the number of exhibitors and visitors, despite perturbations in the world’s economy. The exhibition and its associated events have enlarged thus serving as a testament to Jordan’s reputation as a progressive, secure and peaceful country. SOFEX, acting as a networking platform, contributes significantly to the development of the defense and security industry. We’ve seen a large flow of visitors and participants and efficient transfer of interest and knowledge, which demonstrates the popularity of the exhibition as an instrument of information and procurement.
What are the deals expected to be inked?
SOFEX is dedicated to bringing together those who build, maintain and support the world’s defense and security industry as a driving force for innovation and direct dialogue. By opening new markets, we have contributed to growth and assisted in the advancement of opportunities in this vibrant sector. As a result, we have witnessed many signings of agreements to develop ongoing projects, confirm collaborations and promote Jordanian industries.
By opening new markets, facilitating connections and strengthening relationships between the industry and decision makers, SOFEX serves as an opportunity for the improvement of advanced models of armaments, military equipment and vehicles.
How different is this year’s event from the previous years?
Over the years, SOFEX has become an established and highly anticipated global event, consisting of the Middle East Special Operations Commanders Conference and Opening Show. It is designed to promote military collaboration and exchange to accomplish global peace and security, alongside the protection of borders.
We think Jordan has the right infrastructure for the military and are committed to maximizing the utility we have by continually seeking active engagement with industry makers, providing a wealth of opportunities to grow and form new collaborations and connections, as a global front-runner in developing relations in the fields of special operations and homeland security.
This year, we introduce a dynamic, challenging and cutting-edge, global program for training and educating non-commissioned officers with the participation of speakers from Jordan and friendly countries.
With Jordan sandwiched between Syria and Iraq, how can the Kingdom better protect its borders and how crucial is it for the Kingdom to continue spending on its defense mechanisms?
The latest developments in Syria and Iraq have not obscured the overall quality or progress of the Jordan Armed Forces. With the guidance and attention of His Majesty King Abdullah II, they remain a force to be reckoned with.
Their efficiency has seen them participating in several deployments beyond our borders and numerous peacekeeping operations with great success. As an impeccable model in terms of military capability and talent, Jordan has continued to reinforce its frontiers with the latest advancements and technologies, actively engaging in the international alliance to fight terrorism.
Do you think Jordan’s defense industry has been innovative enough?
The need for strategic modernization and innovation is at the top of every nation’s defense scheme to enhance the capabilities of its forces. This defines the importance of SOFEX, which delivers insights into the latest, most updated advancements within the world of Special Operations and Homeland Security. The exhibition supports the creation and application of new products, services and processes through knowledge and experience transfer, from which the JAF benefit.
The King Abdullah II Design and Development Bureau and its affiliates have also contributed to sustaining and advancing our military superiority by investing in tailored and cutting-edge technologies and systems, including armored and special purpose vehicles, personal protection products, state-of-the-art metal forming technologies, turrets and ring mounts, electronics and avionics, night vision and thermal imaging systems and arms and ammunition to keep the military’s technological edge up to speed with today’s needs and requirements.
How important is SOFEX in boosting the Kingdom’s economy?
Exhibitions are considered to be the bellwether of a city’s economy addressing a vast range of dimensions. First and foremost, it is of economic relevance for the exhibitors, logistics and event suppliers, and skilled and unskilled companies executing the pavilions that directly benefit from SOFEX.
“But many areas of the economy rejoice in the glory of the event and benefit directly from the visitors who travel to Jordan” HRH Prince Feisal added. These are primarily areas that appeal to visitors, such as tourism and hospitality, transport, retail and other service providers, as well as translation services, and culture and leisure facilities.
This economic impact, especially outside of SOFEX, serves as a dollar multiplier, impressively attracting hundreds of visitors from different regions, countries and cultures, leading in gross added value due to the multiplicative spending and employment effects. And when it comes to tourism, Jordan is a very attractive destination, offering a host of historic and cultural activities for visitors to experience.
What are your plans to develop SOFEX further in the coming years?
The essence of what SOFEX does is bringing people together for the mutual interest of international security and world peace. We bring the defense industry together under this common banner, fostering relationships and offering the potential for dramatic change within the defense and security industry, specifically in the fields of Special Operations and Homeland Security.
Everything SOFEX does and aspires to be is driven by the world’s current challenges and needs of the industry, providing demonstrably superior products and services with the highest quality of excellence.
SOFEX’s team is empowered to maximize their potential and contribution with a strong propensity for action in challenging the status quo. We welcome the global nature of the industry and encourage collaborative work to break down the barriers of instability.