Saudi Arabia launches national defense company

Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
Updated 18 May 2017
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Saudi Arabia launches national defense company

RIYADH: The Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF) announced Wednesday the creation of a new national military industries company.
Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) will manufacture products and provide services across four business units: Air Systems, which includes maintenance and repair of fixed-wing aircraft as well as manufacturing and repair of unmanned air vehicles; Land Systems, which includes manufacturing and repair of military vehicles; Weapons and Missiles,  including ammunition; and Defense Electronics, which includes radars and sensors as well as communication systems and electronic warfare.
Wholly government-owned, SAMI aims to become one of the world’s top 25 defense companies by 2030. It will directly contribute around SR14 billion to the Kingdom’s GDP in 2030, invest over SR6 billion in research and development by 2030, and create over 40,000 jobs, many of which will be in the engineering and technical fields.
By partnering with universities, SAMI will provide students with apprenticeships and careers in cutting edge technologies, which were previously unavailable in the Kingdom.
In line with Vision 2030, SAMI will contribute to diversifying the Saudi economy for the 21st century by reducing dependence on oil, while protecting and strengthening national security.
 “While the Kingdom is one of the world’s top five spenders on security and defense overall, only around 2 percent of our military procurement is domestic,” said Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who also serves as minister of defense.

The deputy crown prince emphasized that SAMI will be a major contributor in achieving the goals set out in Vision 2030, which states that 50 percent of Saudi Arabia’s military procurement spending will be localized.
SAMI’s four business units complement the Kingdom’s future military requirements and build on existing local capabilities. SAMI will establish companies through joint ventures with global original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), as well as cooperating with local military companies. It will consider creating new business units, to ensure the company is aligned with the latest developments in the military industries sector.
The Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund has a diverse portfolio made up of approximately 200 investments, of which around 20 are listed on the Tadawul, the Saudi Stock Exchange. As well as its listed holdings, PIF also has unlisted equity investments, international investments, real estate holdings, and loans, bonds and sukuks.
Since oversight of the PIF was transferred from the Ministry of Finance to the Council of Economic and Development Affairs (CEDA), the Fund has been undertaking a phased transformation program to implement a redefined strategy and mandate.
This includes expanding the management, investment and middle and back office teams, enhancing the governance structures, engaging with the diverse portfolio and implementing the investment strategy, which is closely aligned with Vision 2030. A new board has been appointed, chaired by Prince Mohammed bin Salman.


Saudi Arabia lifts ban on women driving

Updated 24 June 2018
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Saudi Arabia lifts ban on women driving

  • They start their engines and hit the roads throughout the Kingdom
  • End of driving ban is crowning achievement so far of Saudi Vision 2030

Women throughout Saudi Arabia waited for the stroke of midnight, turned the keys in the ignition, fired up their engines — and hit the road to a bright new future.

It was the moment they had waited for since King Salman issued the royal decree on September 26, 2017, to lift the driving ban on women. 

Just after midnight on Saturday and in the first minutes of Sunday, Samah Algosaibi grabbed the keys to her family’s 1959 Corvette C1 and drove out of the driveway of her beach house in Khobar.
“We are witnessing history in the making as we look toward the dawn of a promising future,” said Algosaibi, the first female board member of Ahmad Hamad Algosaibi & Bros.

“As a businesswoman in Saudi Arabia, I am grateful for the women’s empowerment movement taking place. Today, I am honored to be sitting behind the wheel of change.”

Another woman to hit the road after midnight was Lina Almaeena, a member of the Saudi Shoura Council. “It feels very liberating,” she said about driving her mother’s Lexus.
Almaeena, also the co-founder and director of Jeddah United Sports Co, had exchanged her UAE license for a Saudi one. 

“I am thrilled!” Sarah Alwassia, 35, a nutritionist in Jeddah, told Arab News. “I learnt how to drive 18 years ago in the States where I got my driving license. I can’t believe that the day to drive in my own home town has come.”

Alwassia obtained her first American license when she was 18 years old in 2000, and had it exchanged for a Saudi license on June 6 in Jeddah. She explained that she is a mother, and this change provided comfort for her and her family. It also comes with various benefits, such as taking quick action in emergencies, and economic benefits such as saving money instead of paying for a driver when she needs to run errands. 

“I will be driving my kids to school and picking them up in comfort and privacy,” she said.

Women in the Kingdom commented on how this event is changing the course of their lives. “Independence is a huge thing for me,” Alwassia said. “Driving is one small part of it. I am very optimistic of the change that our loving country has made.”  

Alwassia applauds the efforts the country has made to support women. “I am confident that driving in the beginning will be pleasant, since our country has made all of the effort to support women and to protect them.
“I think our society was looking forward for this change, and I am sure the majority will adapt fast.

“I feel safe, our country did everything to make this transition pleasant and safe for every woman behind the wheel. I am really thankful to witness this historic moment and I am so happy for all the women in Saudi Arabia, especially my daughters.”
Sahar Nasief, 64, a retired lecturer from the European languages and Literature Department at King Abdulaziz University, said: “Nothing could describe my feelings. I can't wait to get on the road.”
Nasief received a very special gift from Ford for this occasion.

“They gave me a 2018 Expedition to drive for three days, a Mustang California Special,” she told Arab News.

Nasief obtained her Saudi license on June 7. She also holds a British license and two American licenses. “Now, I have my national license too,” she said. 

She also said the lifting of the ban provided a sense of relief. “I feel that I can practice one of my rights, and I don't have to live at the mercy of my driver any more.”
Society has been demanding such a change for years, “as it will take the physical and economic burden off most men.”
Pointing to the anti-harassment law, Nasief said: “I feel very confident especially after announcing the strict harassment law.”
Joumana Mattar, 36, a Jordanian interior designer, exchanged her Jordanian driver’s license and obtained a Saudi one on June 11. 

“I had my Jordanian license since I was 18 years old, and the moment I heard about the opening of exchanging foreign licenses, I immediately booked an appointment,” she said.
Mattar said she looks forward to the change in so many ways. “I'm finally in control of my time, schedule and privacy.” 

Mattar said she is both confident and anxious about the event. “I'm anxious only for feeling that I'm part of a huge first step for women driving in the Kingdom, but I'm confident also because of the support that I'm getting from my husband and family.
“Every first step is the hardest. Society is facing a huge change, but I'm positive because this change is done and supported by the government and Vision 2030.”

Mattar said she feels secure now. “I'm in control of any case I'm facing.”

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