Saudi Arabia eyes South Korean weapons programs

A Saudi Royal Air Force jet takes off at an airbase in the south of the Kingdom. The country faces increased drone attacks from Houthi militants. (SPA)
Updated 27 June 2019

Saudi Arabia eyes South Korean weapons programs

  • Billion-dollar agreements signed during Saudi crown prince’s two-day visit

SEOUL: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman showed a keen interest in South Korea’s weapons development programs, South Korean defense officials said on Thursday.

The crown prince, who is also defense minister, visited the Agency for Defense Development (ADD), the hub for developing South Korea’s weapons systems, before flying to Japan to attend the G20 Summit.  

“We can’t disclose details of the crown prince’s visit to our agency,” an ADD spokesman said, citing the sensitivity of the matter.

But an informed defense industry source told Arab News that the crown prince toured the agency and observed the demonstration of key weapons systems under development.

“Riyadh is keen to augment its air defense system to defend against missile and drone attacks by Houthi militias (in Yemen),” Kim Dae-young, a weapons analyst at the Korea Research Institute for National Strategy, told Arab News.

“In that case, South Korea’s weapons systems and related technologies could be an effective option,” he added.

“In order to minimize civilian casualties, the Saudi armed forces would need more precision armament.”

Houthi attacks

In recent weeks, the Iran-backed Houthis have increased missile and drone attacks against Saudi Arabia.

They have carried out at least 10 missile or drone attacks since April against Saudi airports and other infrastructure facilities. The Kingdom has succeeded in intercepting some of them.

One of the goals of the Saudi Vision 2030 strategy is to produce locally at least half of the Kingdom’s defense equipment over the next decade. Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest arms importer.

Against that backdrop, an executive of a major defense group in South Korea said the crown prince showed a willingness to set up a weapons development agency similar to the ADD.

“Saudi Arabia has long spent freely to purchase weapons systems abroad, but it wants now to bring in technologies and infrastructures so as to nurture a robust defense industry domestically,” the executive said on condition of

HIGHLIGHTS

• In recent weeks, the Iran-backed Houthis have increased missile and drone attacks against Saudi Arabia.

• One of the goals of the Saudi Vision 2030 strategy is to produce locally at least half of the Kingdom’s defense equipment over the next decade.

anonymity, citing comments by ADD sources.

Kim said: “If the Saudi defense sector can be successfully developed, the Kingdom could create a new growth engine, easing its overreliance on energy exports.”

He added: “For South Korea, Saudi Arabia could be a bridgehead to expand its defense exports to the Middle East. So it’s going to be a win-win game.”

The crown prince wrapped up his two-day visit on Thursday with commitments to eight business deals worth a total of $8.3 billion between Saudi state firms and South Korean private companies. In addition, 16 government-level agreements to expand bilateral cooperation in various industry sectors, including robotics, were sealed.

Potential ties

The agreements were signed after talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday at the presidential Blue House, where the crown prince was also greeted by business leaders, including Samsung Group heir Lee Jae-yong and Hyundai Motor Group heir Chung Eui-sun.

The agreements include a $6 billion joint project between the Kingdom’s national oil company Saudi Aramco and Korean oil refiner S-Oil, and a memorandum of understanding between Aramco and Hyundai to cooperate on hydrogen car technology.

The crown prince had a private one-on-one meeting on Wednesday at Samsung’s secretive guest house in Seoul.

According to Samsung officials, the crown prince and Lee discussed potential cooperation on future-oriented technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things.


Lebanese designer celebrates Saudi Arabia’s hidden treasure through art

Miriam El-Moula says she feels like she was born with art in her DNA.
Updated 18 November 2019

Lebanese designer celebrates Saudi Arabia’s hidden treasure through art

  • Miriam El-Moula marks Saudi Arabia’s culture and heritage through sustainable artworks

RIYADH: Defectless, a six-month-old lifestyle brand, is inspired by revealing hidden beauty. It started by highlighting the diversity of Saudi Arabia’s landscape. Unlocking the once-hidden treasures and memorializing them into contemporary and sustainable art pieces.
“I want to create pieces that are not only aesthetically beautiful, but that tell stories of people and places and inspire human progress,” 24-year-old artist Miraim El-Moula told Arab News.
“That is why I am so inspired by what’s happening in Saudi Arabia and the emergence of these new destinations. These destinations were hidden from the world. Now they are shocking the consciousness of many artists, me included, with the beauty of their nature, heritage, and people. They are worth being celebrated.”
Her designs are from four different regions in Saudi Arabia: Asir, AlUla, the Red Sea, and Riyadh. “That’s what I want to show people, that Saudi is not just a desert country. It is much more,” she said.
Hand sculpted from pure marble El-Moula’s latest creation is the Guardian of AlUla. “To me, the elephant rock is a natural wonder that stood the test of time. It is proof that nature is the ultimate artist.”

I love touching material and matching colors. Creating a new piece of art brings me internal happiness.

Miriam El-Moula

Inspired by the people of Asir and the community of the southern city, she recreated Asir Fortress in a contemporary handcrafted way. “I was inspired: On the one hand, the fortress represents the warriors who dedicated their lives to protect their lands, and on the other, Al-Qat pattern, engraved on it, represents the woman of Asir who enriched this community with their vibrant, colorful art.”

HIGHLIGHTS

• Miriam El-Moula’s designs are from four different regions in Saudi Arabia: Asir, AlUla, the Red Sea, and Riyadh.

• Inspired by the people of Asir and the community of the southern city, she recreated Asir Fortress in a contemporary handcrafted way.

• She uses sustainable materials, such as concrete, to replicate the age-old corals. The center is covered with gold making it a beautiful centerpiece.

• A marble tray made out of gold bowls that represent the historic Diriyah buildings — home to the leaders of Saudi Arabia — when conjoined is a representation of the UNESCO heritage site.

“Red Sea Siglia” was created by her inspiration from the marine treasures of the Red Sea. “These coral reefs are 6,000 years old and irreplaceable. They are a gift to mankind that must be celebrated and protected.”
She uses sustainable materials, such as concrete, to replicate the age-old corals. The center is covered with gold making it a beautiful centerpiece.
A marble tray made out of gold bowls that represent the historic Diriyah buildings — home to the leaders of Saudi Arabia — when conjoined is a representation of the UNESCO heritage site.
El-Moula knew from the beginning she wanted to be a designer. As a schoolgirl, she was infatuated with art class and even skipped other classes in school in order to develop her beloved passion.
“I feel like I was born with art in my DNA,” she said. “I love to look at spaces and always have an opinion on how they can look better. I love touching material and matching colors. Creating a new piece of art brings me internal happiness.”
Her first art display will be at Winter of Tantoura in AlUla.