Saudi Arabia seeks to build robust defense industry

The latest developments in military products and technology are on display at the Armed Forces Exhibition for Diversity of Requirements and Capabilities (AFED 2018), on Sunday in Riyadh. (AN photo)
Updated 25 February 2018
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Saudi Arabia seeks to build robust defense industry

RIYADH: Gen. Abdul Rahman bin Saleh Al-Bunyan, chief of staff of the Saudi armed forces, inaugurated a major defense exhibition on Sunday on behalf of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
On behalf of Turkey, the guest-of-honor country at the Armed Forces Exhibition for Diversity of Requirements and Capabilities (AFED 2018), Prof. Ismail Demir, chief of the Turkish defense industry, participated in the inaugural ceremony.
The exhibition is an important government initiative. “Spread over seven days, AFED 2018 is showcasing the latest developments in military products and technology,” said Maj. Gen. Attiya Al-Maliki, an AFED spokesman. “This fourth edition of AFED shows an increase in the number of exhibitors and displayed products.”
Referring to the participation and achievements of the Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI), the state-owned Saudi defense company, Dr. Andreas Schwer, SAMI chief executive, said: “Saudi Arabia is one of the top five countries in the world in terms of military spending, and the establishment of SAMI was an ambitious step as part of the country’s strategy to localize and globalize its military manufacturing industry.”
Schwer said: “SAMI’s participation will open up doors for future long-term partnerships, laying the cornerstone for SAMI to localize 50 percent of government military spending, and become one of the top 25 military industry companies in the world.
“With a strategic framework in place, SAMI aims to contribute around SR14 billion ($3.73 billion) directly to Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic product (GDP), increase the value of national exports by about SR5 billion, invest over SR6 billion for research and development, and create over 40,000 direct jobs locally, by the year 2030.”
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Referring to the Turkish participation in AFED and the possibilities of a tie-up with Saudi companies, especially SAMI, Prof. Demir said: “Saudi Arabia announced that Turkey is the first guest-of-honor country at the AFED, making it an international exhibition, which has been held at the national level before. This decision reflects the deep historical relations and close cooperation between Turkey and Saudi Arabia,” he said, referring to the participation of 25 top-notch Turkish companies in the exhibition.
He added: “Within this framework, it is a pleasure for the leading Turkish defense industry firms, which have developed significant capabilities at designing and producing major defense platforms and systems in line with the procurement projects and needs of the Turkish armed forces, to demonstrate their products and capabilities at AFED 2018. The aims of AFED are to gather Turkish defense industry companies with their Saudi counterparts in order to seek and explore joint production opportunities and deepen the already strong cooperation between the two countries within the framework of Vision 2030.”
Prof. Demir said that the high participation and strong interest of the Turkish defense industry firms in the exhibition demonstrated their sincere will and importance attached to cooperation with Saudi Arabia. As a result of large investments in the defense industry of Turkey, the number of the country’s defense projects has reached 600 at a size of $60 billion, and the defense industry has reached a production capacity of more than $6 billion per year and an export capacity of $2 billion as of today.
Several ministers and diplomats including Minister of Labor and Social Development Ali Al-Ghafis, Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah A. Al-Sawahah; and Turkish Ambassador Erdogan Kok attended the inaugural ceremony.


Hajj 2018: What’s on pilgrims’ bucket lists

Masjid Quba in Madinah is a favorite destination for Hajj pilgrims, according to tour guides. Below: The Cave of Hira, Al-Baqi’ cemetery and the Prophet’s Chamber allow visitors to step back in time. (Getty Images)
Updated 15 August 2018
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Hajj 2018: What’s on pilgrims’ bucket lists

  • A number of companies in Makkah and Madinah help people organize their trips, making sure they cover the important sites in the two holy cities
  • Most of the sites in the two holy cities are spiritual, giving pilgrims a sense of the prophecies

RIYADH: Hajj is one of the biggest dreams of every Muslim’s life, and pilgrims looking forward to their stay in Makkah and Madinah say a bucket list is the best way to plan the trip. 

Most of the sites in the two holy cities are spiritual, giving pilgrims a sense of the prophecies. Standing in the places of the Holy Prophet transports them back to the past as if they lived those incredible moments. 

A number of companies in Makkah and Madinah help people organize their trips, making sure they cover the important sites in the two holy cities.

Sayed Shafei, an operation manager for City Sightseeing, a tour company in Madinah and worldwide, told Arab News: “We offer a special tour with a multilingual tour guide presented in eight languages. We also offer 24-hour tickets. We have scheduled tourism trips starting from the Prophet’s Mosque to 12 destinations every 30 minutes. The whole trip lasts for 14 hours a day.” 

Asked about the most popular requests, Shafei said: “Our customers always ask to visit Masjid Quba, the Sayed Al-Shuhada Mosque in Uhud, which is considered a vital historic landmark of Madinah, and Al-Qiblatain Mosque.” 

Most of the group’s customers are from East Asia, but many also visit from Kuwait, Bahrain, the UAE, Indonesia, Malaysia, the US and Europe.

Munirah Al-Jebreen, an English instructor at Princess Noura University who will perform Hajj this year, told Arab News her bucket list began with an online search. 

“I found a travel guide on Google that has all the best sites in Madinah and Makkah, so I decided to visit Uthman ibn Affan’s Farm and Well in Madinah, the Holy Qur’an exhibition, and one of the most important places I want to visit is the grave of the Holy Prophet,” she said.

The area between the Prophet’s Chamber, which holds his grave, and the Mimbar is known as the Rawdah, which is actually the Garden of Paradise. It is presently distinguished by a green carpet.

Al-Jebreen also listed some of her planned tour destinations in Makkah, including the Cave of Hira, where the Holy Prophet meditated frequently during the first 40 years of his life and the site of the first revelation. 

She will also visit Bilal Mosque and Mount Abu Qubais and, finally, will try Al-Garmushi, one of the famous traditional restaurants in Makkah.