Saudi defense minister inaugurates World Defense Show 2024

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s strategic location at the crossroads of multiple continents, coupled with its abundant natural resources, has allowed the nation to garner a position of “influence” within the global military industry, said the governor of the General Authority for Military Industries.

Ahmed Al-Ohali was speaking at the inauguration of the World Defense Show in the Saudi capital where defense leaders and experts have gathered to showcase their products and explore opportunities in the Kingdom’s defense sector.

The Kingdom’s global connectivity, location, and national economy make it a key player in the international supply chain, the GAMI governor said.

The official further outlined that these factors have led to a viable and attractive investment environment across various promising fields. 

The defense sector, in particular, stands as a catalyst for growth in non-oil exports, the attraction of high-quality foreign investments, and excellence in research and development, Al-Ohali stated. 

In his opening address, he noted the economic and technological significance of the global forum, saying: “This event symbolizes the strong bonds among our nations and serves as a platform for showcasing the latest advancements in defense technology.”

Deeming the conference an ideal opportunity for industry leaders, policymakers, and innovators to collaborate and chart the course for a secure and stable future, he added: “We are committed to exploring new avenues of cooperation in the defense and security industry, leveraging our rich heritage, human capital, and economic resources to foster innovation and technological advancement.” 

The GAMI chief highlighted that participating delegations will analyze the latest in operational compatibility systems, military aircraft, unmanned systems, and military satellites, adding that the joint endeavors in the global community aim to address the challenges and opportunities in defense.

With these sentiments in mind, the theme of the event’s second edition, “Equipped for the Future,” thus aligns with the Kingdom’s strategic advantages, Al-Ohali said, underscoring the attractive investment opportunities available through the forum’s four days. 

He deemed economic and defense integration a “key to our collective growth,” noting that this requires increased knowledge exchange, trade, and investment in this vital sector. 

The official highlighted that GAMI has established a forward-thinking investment strategy to facilitate business growth and investor returns, adding that this includes a focus on research and development, international partnerships, talent development, sustainability, and competitiveness. 

The event’s first day saw a multitude of efforts taken to demonstrate Saudi Arabia’s keenness to collaborate with international players, including several memorandums of understanding between the Ministry of Investment, GAMI, and various global companies, including Airbus and Aselsan. 

Beyond investments, the Kingdom will also share “other opportunities and incentives” with defense and security leaders, investors, and innovators, according to the governor. 

This was exemplified through the signing of an MoU between the Saudi Industrial Development Fund and GAMI for the operation of the military industries incentive program in the presence of the Kingdom’s Industry and Mineral Resources Minister Bandar Alkhorayef and SIDF CEO Prince Sultan bin Khalid Al-Saud.

The Kingdom will thus facilitate the exchange of expertise, the building of partnerships, and collaboration with major international and local companies specialized in defense and security throughout the remaining time of the exhibit and beyond, he outlined.