Saudi Arabian Military Industries aims to export weapons, says Chief Strategy Officer

Walid Abukhaled, Chief Strategy Officer at SAMI. (supplied)
Updated 01 September 2019

Saudi Arabian Military Industries aims to export weapons, says Chief Strategy Officer

  • CSO says SAMI wants to become one of the top 25 military companies by 2030
  • Company also looking to fill the large domestic demand for military equipment

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.

Organizers promise ‘exceptional’ Saudi National Day celebrations

Updated 16 September 2019

Organizers promise ‘exceptional’ Saudi National Day celebrations

  • We are keen to have the largest international events to create an exceptional season, says GEA CEO Amr Banaja

RIYADH: Fireworks, concerts, festivals and international performances will be among the highlights of the 89th Saudi National Day celebrations this year.

The General Entertainment Authority (GEA) has announced a season of record-breaking events for the annual celebration.

At a press conference in Riyadh on Sunday, GEA CEO Amr Banaja said that Saudi citizens and residents can enjoy a number of entertainment activities planned across 13 regions of the Kingdom as part of the National Day season being supervised by the GEA from Sept. 19 to 23.

“The GEA is proud to oversee the Saudi National Day Season activities by launching a unified identity that brings together the society under “Himma Hatta El-Qimmah,” Banaja said, inspired by the words of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman: “The Saudis’ strength is like that of the Tuwaiq mountain.”

The GEA was proud to be overseeing the occasion, Banaja said. “We are keen to have the largest international events to create an exceptional season befitting this dear country,” he said.

“This year fireworks celebrations will continue for several days where more than 700,000 shots will be fired at an altitude of up to 300 meters, accompanied by music,” he said.

Celebrations will be held in all regions during the season, and visitors will be able to enjoy a range of activities that reflected the unity of the nation and the cohesion of the people and leadership.

“Distinctive international shows designed especially for the National Day will be held in Riyadh from Sept. 21-23,” he said.

Fireworks will light up Jeddah over Al-Hamra Corniche accompanied by sound and light effects and laser shows.

At the five-day Dhahran Exhibition in Dammam starting on Sept. 19, the world’s largest theatrical producer “Cirque du Soleil” will present a specially designed show for Saudi National Day.

Forty artists will present 14 shows of acrobatics, sports, music, and dance. Eight concerts will also be held in a number of regions where, besides international stars, Saudi and Gulf artists will present patriotic songs.

The concerts will begin on the first day of the season on Sept. 19 at Al-Jouf University Stadium in Sakaka with performances by Khaled Abdulrahman and Nabil Shuail.

The next day, a concert will be held at King Khalid Sport City in Tabuk staged by artists Abdullah Al-Rowaished and Aseel Abu Bakr.

On Sept. 21, Majid Al-Mohandes and Dalia Mubarak will perform at Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Musaed Stadium in Hail.

On Sept. 22, two concerts will be performed at King Abdullah Sports City in Buraidah by artists Rashid Al-Majid and Balqees Fathi; the second at Prince Sultan Cultural Center in Jazan by “The Artist of Arabs” Mohammed Abdo and Turki.

On Saudi National Day (Sept. 23), three concerts will be held in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam.

Thousands will gather at King Fahd Cultural Center in Riyadh to listen to singers Hussein Al-Jasmi and Abadi Al-Jawhar.

In Jeddah, Rabeh Saqr and the artist Waad will perform at King Abdullah Sports City, while in Dammam, and in the Green Halls in Riyadh, Kuwaiti singer Nawal and the artist Ayed will entertain the audience.

Five forums will take place in five cities, where a number of speakers will present inspirational events.

Forums will be held in Madinah and Tabuk on Sept. 19, while in Abha and Buraidah the forum will be held on Sept. 21 and in Hail on Sept. 23.

Banaja said that the GEA had created 150 smartphone apps for the National Day celebrations with 40,000 downloaded so far.

He thanked the security authorities for their efforts to make the season a success, and all government, private and nonprofit sectors for their contribution.

The programs were mostly free, he said, though there were some concerts for which tickets could be purchased online.

There will also be a major aero show in Riyadh, Jeddah and the Eastern Province, and a Saudi falcon show will be organized in Riyadh, Jeddah and Alkhobar.