BEIRUT: Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) is planning to invest up to $1.8 billion (SR7 billion) during the coming period, in strategic partnerships, projects, and certain acquisitions, CEO Walid Abukhaled told Asharq News in an interview on the sidelines of the Future Investment Initiative (FFI) summit.
SAMI is also aiming at localizing over 50 percent of government military purchases by 2030, in line with the government’s goal for the Kingdom to be self-sufficient.
Achieving the 50 percent target by 2030 is challenging, especially as the company started with around 3 percent of government purchases when SAMI was set up in 2017, but the CEO is confident he can achieve it. “I’m shooting for a minimum of 60 percent, maybe more,” he told Arab News in an interview earlier this month.
His ambitious goal received a significant boost recently when SAMI acquired the Advanced Electronics Co. (AEC), buying out the 50 percent stake held by British defense giant BAE Systems.
SAMI is aiming to be ranked among the top 25 defense companies in the world by 2030, and the acquisition of AEC has given it a big push in that direction, taking many years off the timescale toward that goal.
SAMI does not enter into partnerships and projects only for profit, and the main goal is to share knowledge and transfer technology, said Abukhaled, adding that the company has a budget for research and investment in Saudi Arabia.
Abukhaled told Asharq the company already has partnerships with many international companies around the world, including Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and French company Thales.
Saudi Arabia is the world’s third-biggest defense spender and until recently it imported virtually all of its military equipment from abroad.