Despite the strength and resilience of the defence industry, it is not immune to the effects of Covid-19. How companies in or associated with the sector adapt to the new circumstances and manage their business and legal risks could make the difference between those who fail, survive and thrive.

The defence sector is being shielded from the worst effects of the pandemic because of its strategic importance, with governments across the globe continuing their existing defence programmes, many of which are typically long term in nature. Defence ministries have also been proactive in confirming their continuing commitment to suppliers. In the MENA region, governments’ defence spending commitments in, for example, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, have remained robust due to the fact that they engage large contracts with other governments or foreign manufacturers as in the case of foreign military sales.

This article presents the main impacts of the outbreak on the defence industry in the MENA region, and is based on comments made at a collaborative webinar held by KPMG, Freshfields and DWF Middle East on 21 April 2020. We are grateful to the speakers who inspired this article: Freshfields Partners (Jane Jenkins, Sami Tannous, Fares Al-Hejailan, Nabeel Yousef) and Freshfields Counsel (Kate Gough); KPMG (Omer Tauqir, Simon Pilkington, and Mohamed Araji); and DWF Middle East LLP Regional Managing Partner and Co-Head of Employment, Shiraz Sethi).