"With more threats and continued tensions, you will have continued demand for new systems and new capabilities, and that is why we have seen ongoing interest in upgrading and renewing fighter fleets," Riad Kahwaji, chief executive of the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, said.

"So long as tension is there, and the situation with Iran is not solved, and there is the threat of terrorism and so forth, I think there will be an ongoing arms race."

In 2008 the show, the largest aviation event in the Middle East, achieved a record order total of $155bn.

Big spenders

Al Jazeera's Kamahl Santamaria, reporting from the air show, said: "The airline industry needs the Dubai air show and this region.

"Because it is probably the one part of the world where the carriers are still spending money.

"If anyone is going to be buying airplanes, it is going to be Middle Eastern Gulf airlines rather than the European and US ones.

"So you could say there are signs of recovery here, but there is a softly-softly approach at the moment."

Ethiopian Airlines is said to have already placed an order of almost $3bn for Airbus aircraft, industry sources said.

A request for 12 A350-900s, drafted in July, is set to be confirmed on Sunday in a bid to gain maximum publicity for the expansion.

The US are displaying the F-22 Raptor, the world's most advanced fighter aircraft, at the show, in what analysts have said is a reminder of its military capabilities.