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Wednesday, January 19, 2011     FOR YOUR EYES ONLY

United Arab Emirates markets handgun in U.S.

ABU DHABI — The United Arab Emirates has introduced an indigenous handgun into the United States.


The firearm, the first by the Gulf Cooperation Council state, was identified as the Caracal.

"Our first shipment to the United States landed a month ago," Caracal marketing director Said Ali Al Shamsi said. "Next year, we're looking at shipping 15,000 to 20,000 units to the United States."

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In an interview to the Abu Dhabi-based Gulf News, Al Shamsi said the Caracal shipment to the United States marked a watershed for the UAE company. He said the U.S. market would promote sales throughout the global market, Middle East Newsline reported.

"The United States is every gun manufacturer's market; they are the most important market," Al Shamsi said. "The fact that we've just landed there within three years of starting Caracal is an achievement in itself."

Caracal first began developing its light arms in 2002 in cooperation with European designers and began marketing five years later. In August, the UAE company sent 5,000 9mm Caracal polymer pistols to the United States in a marketing arrangement with Waffen Werks USA. The pistol has been available in three configurations.

The UAE military and security forces have procured 22,000 firearms from Caracal, a subsidiary of the state-owned Tawazun Holding. The production has taken place in Abu Dhabi's military zone.

"Caracal is now standard issue for the UAE military," Al Shamsi said. "Abu Dhabi police should be handing it out to their officers within the next month."

Executives said Bahrain, Jordan and the European Union diplomatic security have been clients of Caracal, which has received NATO certification. In 2010, Caracal also added such clients as France, Germany, Italy and Thailand.

"We're the only small-arms manufacturer in the Middle East to sell internationally," Al Shamsi said. "We have a good chance at landing more law enforcement agencies."

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