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Vision 2030

World Defense Show: GCC defense sector thrives on partnerships, localization

Published: Updated:

Partnerships will remain a key component when developing indigenous defense capabilities, the UAE’s EDGE Group director of international business said during Saudi Arabia’s World Defense Show in Riyadh.

The flagship Saudi event is one of many around the world where companies like EDGE visit to form new connections and showcase the latest technology.

The EDGE pavilion at Riyadh's World Defense Show. (Supplied)
The EDGE pavilion at Riyadh's World Defense Show. (Supplied)

According to EDGE Group director of international business Miles Chambers, essential components with highly confidential or compromising information will be built and secured by local talent.

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“Key areas that we’ve identified as critical, we’ll invest in having that capability indigenously,” he told Al Arabiya English.

Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 goals provide a framework to achieve 50 percent localization of spending on military equipment and services.

This way, job creation is expected to exponentially increase, as industrial sectors like industrial equipment, communications, and information technology are stimulated.

Despite the Kingdom being the third largest military spender, only two percent of this spending happens within the country, according to an undated online report from the government about Vision 2030.

This is changing, however.

On Tuesday at the World Defense Show, a statement from the event stated that Saudi Arabia had signed 10 deals worth $1.8 billion (SAR 7 billion) with local and international agencies, many of which also include a clause to localize production, development, and/or supply chain and logistics.

This is in addition to the $2.3 billion (SAR 8 billion) in deals that were signed on Monday.

In an exclusive statement to Al Arabiya English, Mikail Houari, President of Airbus Africa and Middle East said that the show “highlights the need of greater localization of skills and capabilities within the defense sector.”

Airbus claims to employ 350 people in the Kingdom of which more than 30 percent are Saudi nationals.

Lockheed Martin, another US-based defense company signed an agreement with Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Military Industries to localize manufacturing of missile interceptor launchers and missile interceptor canisters.

A Lockheed spokesperson, in a statement to Al Arabiya English, said that the latest move comes in recognition of Saudi Arabia’s industrial base and the growth opportunity it provides.

Suliman Almazroua, CEO of National Industrial Development And Logistics Program (NIDLP), told Al Arabiya English that the “localization of the promising industries including defense will create more sustainable and diversified economy that is less dependent on oil and gas revenue.”

The NIDLP is one body that integrates the key sectors of energy, mining, industry, and logistics, which helps achieve targets including the localization of the military industry, according to the CEO.

He pointed to the Kingdom’s “highly developed” infrastructure, wealth of resources, and strategic location which are all working towards achieving the goals of Vision 2030.

Almazroua claimed that the localization percentage in the defense sector has already risen from two percent to eight percent, adding that “we had many fruitful bilateral meetings with top companies who showed an interest to enter or expanded their businesses in Saudi Arabia,” without providing further details.

The World Defense Show was launched to showcase the Kingdom’s defense capability and integrate with future focused defense technology. But importantly, the event is also acting as a platform to connect Saudi suppliers and buyers with international market leaders.

Saudi Arabia’s first World Defense Show opened to the public on March 6, 2022. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia’s first World Defense Show opened to the public on March 6, 2022. (SPA)

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