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.


Saudi rural tourism recovers after months of forced isolation

Updated 33 min 53 sec ago

Saudi rural tourism recovers after months of forced isolation

  • Saudis turn to domestic traveling and flock to their nation’s cooler cities and rural areas

TAIF: As Saudi citizens turn to domestic tourism in the country’s summer resorts, adapting to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, rural areas have become targeted by local tourists wishing to get away from the soaring temperatures in most of the Kingdom’s cities.

Visitors are now choosing cold Saudi cities instead of Europe, which they are accustomed to visiting, such as Taif, Al-Baha, and Abha.

COVID-19 has postponed all plans to travel abroad, and attention has now focused on domestic tourism amid strict health protocols in parks, gardens and recreational areas.

Walid Al-Hamidi, vice president of the Tourism Development Council, confirmed to Arab News that Asir, with its facilities and attractions, was ready to receive summer visitors from across the country.

He said that under the directives of Asir's governor, who supervises all activities and events directly and constantly, many committees had been formed to prepare a successful summer tourism season, to optimize the opportunity and allow people to enjoy the exceptional ambiance of Asir.

“A comprehensive tourism plan was set up two years ago, which resulted in a successful Al-Soudah Season with the support of Asir’s Investment Authority,” Al-Hamidi added.

He noted that Asir’s directives aimed this year to build an exceptional tourism model that meets optimal health standards in dealing with COVID-19.

The model is supported by the “Nashama Asir” team — consisting of 4,000 volunteers — who have been trained for months and have all the necessary skills to make the season successful. Their work will continue until the end of the pandemic and throughout the summer.

“Everyone is ready at public facilities, gardens and parks, to serve tourists,” he said, adding “tourists coming from all the over the Kingdom will be welcomed with smiles, enhanced services, and warm welcomes.”

Dr. Sami Al-Obaidi, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Taif, told Arab News that the tourism sector was the economic backbone of any country or city.

He said that Taif was considered one of the most important tourist cities, given its many attractions  that made it top of any list of places to visit in the Kingdom.

“Suspending travel abroad, and limiting tourism … due to the coronavirus pandemic, makes us, as officials and citizens in Taif, well placed for a beautiful and safe tourism season for Taif’s citizens and visitors,” said Al-Obaidi.

“Meetings are held around the clock, headed by Saad Al-Maimouni, the governor of Taif, with the participation of the relevant authorities.”

He expected all sectors, especially tourism, hospitality and a few other businesses in Taif, to recover to some extent during this season, especially now tourists have already started flocking to the region, with numbers set to increase over the coming weeks.