JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia aims to be an arms exporting country, said Walid Abukhaled, the newly appointed Chief Strategy Officer at Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI).
He said that SAMI wants to become one of the top 25 military companies by 2030 and is looking to fulfill the large domestic demand for military equipment.
“The opportunity to localize military equipment at all stages — from manufacturing, maintenance and support — is promising. We’re keen to design and build equipment inside the Kingdom with local minds and manpower,” Abukhaled said.
Although Saudi Arabia is not experienced in the military industry, the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan has goals in this field.
“The shortage of experience and manpower is one of the obstacles that can be overcome. I see it as an opportunity to attract the youth in the Kingdom to the defense industry,” he added.
We will satisfy the demand at home and with our allies in the Gulf Cooperation Council before we export to the world.
Walid Abukhaled, Chief Strategy Officer at SAMI
Abukhaled said that SAMI is working on initiatives with the General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI) to ensure the industry has the right atmosphere for companies to operate.
“The supply chain of military companies is a major initiative to support the infrastructure of the industry. We’re working with GAMI to have that in place to ensure that big companies can work smoothly,” he added.
Commenting on future plans, Abukhaled told Arab News that SAMI is planning to be a global source of defense equipment.
“The Saudi defense budget is one of the largest in the world and demand for the Kingdom’s equipment is very high. We will satisfy the demand at home and with our allies in the Gulf Cooperation Council before we export to the world,” he added.
Abukhaled told Arab News that the Kingdom needs to introduce defense and aerospace education for new generations.
“I think it’s important to partner with the Technical and Vocational Training Corp. We need the local Saudi commission who are able to support sophisticated military equipment on the ground,” he said.
SAMI is hoping to collaborate with industries related to defense. Abukhaled said that “the future is about electronic warfare and cybersecurity. We must work with GAMI, the Ministry of Education and Saudi universities to find students that will enhance our industry.”
Addendum: The headline of a previous version of this article inaccurately referred to Mr.Abu Khaled as the CEO of SAMI for Strategy and Development, his correct title is Chief Strategy Officer.