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Dubai Air Show Hawks Pricey Planes, Weapons

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Dubai Air Show Hawks Pricey Planes, Weapons

Dubai Air Show Hawks Pricey Planes, Weapons

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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This week, the Persian Gulf sheikhdom of Dubai held its biannual air show, a time when airplane manufacturers flock to lucrative markets in the Middle East. This year, they were not disappointed with reports of record sales in the oil-rich region.

NPR's Ivan Watson visited the air show and sent this Reporter's Notebook.

IVAN WATSON: The flashiest parts of the Dubai air show were the stunt planes, which flew in formation and drew a heart with an arrow through it with their smoke trails.

(Soundbite of airplanes)

WATSON: But the main attraction of all things was a commercial passenger jet, the new double-decker Airbus A380, which is manufactured in Europe and can seat more than 850 passengers.

This week, a Saudi billionaire prince made headlines when he ordered one of the $300-million A380s for himself. Newspapers dubbed it, his flying palace. I asked Gary Scott, an executive at the Canadian plane manufacturer Bombardier, to give me a tour of his company's much smaller private jets.

Mr. GARY SCOTT (President, Aircraft Services and New Commercial Aircraft Program, Bombardier Aerospace): You get full stand-up cabin, a larger lounge, more spacious room for the eight seats.

WATSON: What's the price tag on this plane?

Unidentified Woman #1: The price of the Challenger 300 is at 22.

Unidentified Woman #2: ((unintelligible) 20.

Unidentified Woman #1: Yeah.

Mr. SCOTT: Yeah.

Unidentified Woman #1: It's between 20 and 22 million U.S.

WATSON: And you have to wait three years to get one of these.

Mr. SCOTT: Yeah. Unfortunately, you do because there's such a demand, and we've been ramping up production as quickly as we can.

WATSON: Scott says the private plane market used to be dominated by Europe and North America. But it's now exploding in the Middle East, Russia and Asia. The most jarring thing about this air show was seeing private planes for the filthy rich displayed just a few yards away from arms manufacturers who advertize missiles and smart bombs.

Textron Systems' presentation for its Sensor Fuzed Weapon, or SFW, looks like a video game.

(Soundbite of SFW presentation)

Unidentified Man #1: One, two. We're jammed up on Highway 8, north of Heela(ph). Can you help?

Unidentified Man #2: Roger. I have a load up SFWs and Mark 82s.

Unidentified Man #1: I need a (unintelligible) SFW…

WATSON: The video showed how the weapon scattered bomblets and destroyed an entire Iraqi tank column during the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

(Soundbite of SFW presentation)

Unidentified Man #3: It is trying to destroy vehicles including tanks.

WATSON: During this five-day show, airplane manufacturers sold entire fleets of close to $80 billion worth of commercial passenger planes to oil-rich Middle Eastern countries. I bet the arms dealers did pretty well here too.

SIMON: NPR's Ivan Watson.

We apologize for misspeaking. The Clinton campaign never produced the receipt for tip, only for food. They said they left the cash kit. But no wonder the restaurant has been found that that was received.

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