Fadel Al Kaabi, formerly of the Tawazun sovereign fund, set up the International Golden Group (IGG) in 2002. The company, which is headed by Fadel's uncle, former armed forces deputy chief of staff Mohammed Hilal Al Kaabi, specialises in partnerships with Western defence groups like France's Thales, Britain's BAE Systems, Paramount of South Africa and Italy's Selex. In 2013, IGG also went into partnership with US group General Dynamics (GD) to market Predator drones to the United Arab Emirates.


IGG's favours are sought after by a multitude of commercial agents acting as intermediaries for Western companies. Bill Clinton's former defence secretary, William Cohen, who is today head of the Cohen Group, is among the most active of these agents. Belgian-Greek entrepreneur Christian Hadjiminas is another.

Sometimes, IGG serves as cover for secret operations carried out by UAE outside its borders. In 2011, it sent large quantities of light arms to the rebel forces attacking the Gaddafi regime in Libya via Albanian state arms manufacturer Meico and Armenia's DG Arms Corporation. In 2012 and 2013, a similar arrangement is thought to have been set up to help Syrian rebels fighting the regime of Bachar Al Assad.