The biannual five-day International Defense Exhibition and Naval Defense Exhibition (IDEX and NAVDEX 2021), which features more than 900 exhibitors from 59 nations with 35 national pavilions, kicked off this week. But there was one notable absence. 

The United States had no high-level official delegation at the big Abu Dhabi defense show, which it has traditionally attended with American officials from U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM). 

In a piece by Breaking Defense, event organizers, who asked not to be identified, noted the lack of U.S. participation.

“The U.S. delegations used to be the biggest of all delegations that showed up at IDEX, which is hosted by one of the most important clients to the U.S. defense industry,” one official said. 

At the heart of the matter was the decision by the Biden administration to freeze major arms deals to both the U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia. The lack of American presence in Abu Dhabi drives home the point that relations between Washington and Abu Dhabi are frosty right now. 

In the final weeks of the Trump administration, the United States agreed to a massive $23 billion dollar deal of 50 Lockheed-Martin F-35 stealth fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates. On December 29, the State Department also approved the sale of 18 Reaper drones and as many as 3,000 missiles, worth as much as $290 million, to Saudi Arabia.

Both of these sales have been frozen by the Biden administration as announced by the new Secretary of State Antony Blinken less than a week after he assumed his position. Trump had pushed the deal through by declaring the sale “an emergency” given that the U.A.E.-Saudi coalition is in a fight in Yemen against Iran-supported Houthi rebels

While a candidate for president, Biden vowed to cut aid to the coalition in order to stop the fighting in Yemen. And as soon as he took office, he did just that.