Saudi military officers to receive training in Germany

Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman confers with German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen in Riyadh on Thursday. (SPA)
Updated 09 December 2016

Saudi military officers to receive training in Germany

RIYADH: Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, second deputy premier and minister of defense, and Ursula von der Leyen, German defense minister, held talks here Thursday.
They agreed to boost defense cooperation between the two countries, especially in the “training sector,” and make contributions to regional peace.
The talks also focused on key regional issues and challenges confronting the Middle East.
“The talks between Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed and the German minister focused on ways and means to beef up Saudi-German cooperation in different areas including high-level exchanges, personnel education and training, defense, mutual visits and security affairs,” said Michael Ohnmacht, deputy chief of the mission at the German Embassy, here on Thursday.
Ohnmacht said that “a draft agreement for training Saudi military officers in Germany is ready to be signed soon.” He said that the two sides would “enhance” military cooperation and work closely to make strong ties a key aspect of bilateral relations.
Asked about specific issues that figured during the talks with the deputy crown prince, the German diplomat said that “bilateral relations and regional issues with special reference to training of Saudi military officials and counter-terrorism efforts topped the agenda of the talks.”
Von der Leyen, who is the latest German official to visit Saudi Arabia this year, also paid a visit to the Riyadh-based headquarters of the 39-nation Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism (IMAFT). The German minister, on arrival at IMAFT, was met by top personnel and was briefed about the operation. The Islamic Military Alliance was set up on the initiative of Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed in December last year.
The German defense minister, who belongs to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, which governs in coalition with the Social Democrats (SPD), had a meeting with Mohammed Al-Tuwaijri, deputy minister of economy and planning. Al-Tuwaijri briefed the minister about Vision 2030, which calls for promoting partnerships with allies for peace, security and development.
Germany has taken over the presidency of the Group of 20 (G-20). Saudi Arabia is also a member of G-20, and hence there will be ample opportunities for both countries to work within the framework of the G-20 during the German presidency. Germany took over the presidency of the G-20 on Dec. 2 as Merkel reaffirmed that she plans to use this opportunity to challenge the zeal of protectionism pushed forth by the change of administration in the United States.
During her stay in Riyadh, Von der Leyen also visited the MiSK Foundation, where she was met by young men and women.
The Kingdom and Germany are close allies at regional and international levels. Germany has had a high-tech prosperous defense industry. German exports to different countries include tanks, guns, patrol boats, all-terrain vehicles, aerial refueling equipment, drones, and parts for combat aircraft and armored vehicles, according to the German news agency DPA.

Home defense industry
Meanwhile, the head of a major military development firm said Thursday that Saudi Arabia is striving to develop a homegrown defense industry but cutting reliance on foreign equipment will take years.
The Kingdom is the world’s third-biggest defense spender, but only 2 percent of that outlay is local.
Riyadh targets 50 percent domestic defense content by 2030, under a wide-ranging vision to diversify the oil-dependent economy.
“It’s going to take some time to put it into practice. You’re talking about a few years down the road,” Mohamed Al-Mady, governor of the Kingdom’s Military Industries Corporation, told Agence France Presse when asked how soon products could be available.
It is too early to say what type of gear the Kingdom could manufacture because a “final strategy” is still being developed, he said.
“Then we will know exactly which sectors” will be the focus, Al-Mady said on the sidelines of the Asbar World Forum in Riyadh.
The Saudi defense industry currently consists of just seven companies and two research and development centers.
It has already begun developing spare parts, armored vehicles and ammunition but will expand “to higher value and more complex equipment such as military aircraft,” according to the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.
With the strategy still evolving, Al-Mady could not say whether aircraft production was a realistic goal.
Saudi Arabia has traditionally bought its arms from the United States, Britain and France.
“We visited a number of countries around the world to learn from their experience” in defense manufacturing, Al-Mady told the forum, specifically citing South Korea and Turkey. 
“We need all types of products that we brought from outside,” said the former vice chairman and CEO of Saudi petrochemicals giant SABIC. “We have to manufacture them locally.”

— With input from Agence France Presse 


OIC delivers COVID-19 emergency medical aid to Afghanistan

Updated 3 min 34 sec ago

OIC delivers COVID-19 emergency medical aid to Afghanistan

  • The aid parcels contain disposable medical masks and protective clothing for quarantine personnel

RIYADH: Emergency medical aid organized under the auspices of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has arrived at Kabul International Airport, ready to be delivered to the Afghan ministries of foreign affairs and public health to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
The aid parcels containing disposable medical masks, specialized N95 hospital masks and protective clothing for quarantine personnel were handed over to the Afghan authorities in presence of OIC’s Resident Representative in Kabul. 
Meanwhile the Islamic Solidarity Fund (ISF), a subsidiary OIC institution aimed at supporting the least developed member states in their response to the pandemic, especially in the health sector, has also delivered a first tranche of emergency financial assistance to Afghanistan.