State-owned Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) aims to generate annual revenue of $5 billion by 2030, its chief executive said on Monday, part of a drive to build more defense equipment inside the kingdom.
Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s largest buyers of foreign arms which has been embroiled in conflict in Yemen for six years, set up SAMI in 2017 to cut its reliance on imported weapons and military systems.
The government aims to spend 50 percent of its military budget by 2030 on equipment made at home.
Chief Executive Walid Abukhaled told Reuters at Abu Dhabi’s Idex defence exhibition that SAMI aimed to be among the world’s top 25 defence firms by 2030. “Being in the top 25 companies by 2030, you’re looking at $5 billion a year” in revenue, he said.
Abukhaled, who did not give a figure for current revenues, took over as CEO in April.
He gave a more conservative target than his predecessor who said in 2019 he wanted SAMI to be one of the world’s top 10 defense companies by 2030. Abukhaled said there had been no major shift in strategy.
Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, set up SAMI as part of a broad economic program to diversify the oil-dependent economy.
Abukhaled said SAMI would sign a deal on Monday with NIMR, a company in neighboring United Arab Emirates which builds military vehicles, to set up manufacturing in Saudi Arabia.
SAMI on Sunday signed a joint venture agreement with US firm Lockheed Martin, which is involved in installing a $15 billion missile defence system in Saudi Arabia.
Abukhaled said SAMI was developing systems to counter drones, a move that would help deal with drone attacks that are frequently launched at the kingdom by Yemen’s Houthi movement.
“At the end of the day our ultimate objective is to really serve the (Saudi Arabian) armed forces,” Abukhaled said.