Like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Qatar wants its own sovereign weapons industry. Over the last three years, it has built Barzan Holdings out of nothing. To do this, Emir Tamim ben Hamad Al Thani has called upon the expertise - and contacts - of leading local figures and many foreign consultants. We take a look at the key players.

Barzan Holdings' executives have been travelling all over the world. The conglomerate's chairman, Qatari defence minister Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah, is expected in the United States in early November for the inauguration of Barzan Aeronautical, one of Barzan's many subsidiaries, which has been given the specific task of developing drones for the emirate. At the end of August, vice-president Abdullah Hassan Al Khater was at the International Defence Industry Fair in Istanbul, where he announced the signing of a major contract between another group subsidiary, Barzan Maintenance Shield, and Turkish arms group Havelsan. Al Khater had earlier spoken of the group's military cooperation projects with Kazakhstan and Poland, and of the anti-drone project Barzan Holdings has been asked to carry out during the 2022 football World Cup in Qatar.

Set up three years ago along the same lines as the Emirates Defence Industries Co (EDIC) in Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) in Riyadh, the plan is to have Barzan serve as the basis for an actual Qatari defence industry, as well as promote the emirate's diplomatic and military ambitions. To achieve its objectives, the state-owned company has decided to draw on the expertise of Western defence industry companies. It has set up several joint ventures with these companies to ensure their technological know-how is transferred to Qatar and has recruited many foreign executives and senior managers from the arms sector to work for these joint ventures, as well as for Barzan itself. Among them is its chief operating officer, Briton John Taylor. The group has also used the services of consultants specialising in the negotiation of major contracts.

Those big plans have, however, suffered many setbacks. Some of the joint ventures it announced with great ceremony never actually came into being, while those which did, like the one it set up with Taylor's old company, Rheinmetall, have run into major difficulties.