Saudi Arabia’s SAMI group aims $5 billion in defence production

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Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI): In a move aimed at boosting indigenous defence industry, Saudi Arabia’s State-owned Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) aims to generate annual revenue of US$5 billion by 2030, said its chief executive Walid Abukhaled.

SAMI was set up by the Kingdom’s government in 2017 to cut its reliance on imported weapons and military systems.

The government aims to spend 50 per cent of its military budget by 2030 on equipment made at home.

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Speaking at Abu Dhabi Idex defence exhibition, the company’s Chief Executive Walid Abukhaled said his company aims to be among the world’s top 25 defence firms by 2030.

“Being in the top 25 companies by 2030, we’re looking at US$5 billion a year in revenue,” he said.

Abukhaled, who did not share the current turnover of the Group, took over as CEO in April last year.

Abukhaled gave a more conservative target than his predecessor who said in 2019 he wanted SAMI to be one of the world’s top 10 defence companies by 2030. He said there had been no major shift in strategy.

Walid Abukhalek, CE, SAMI Group

Walid Abukhalek, CE, SAMI Group

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, set up SAMI as part of a broad economic program to diversify the oil-dependent economy.

Abukhaled said SAMI would sign a deal with NIMR, a company in neighboring United Arab Emirates which builds military vehicles, to set up manufacturing in Saudi Arabia.

SAMI on February 21 signed a joint venture agreement with US firm Lockheed Martin, which is involved in installing a US$15 billion missile defence system in Saudi Arabia.

Abukhaled said SAMI was developing systems to counter drones, a move that would help deal with drone attacks that are frequently launched at the kingdom by Yemen’s Houthi movement.

“At the end of the day our ultimate objective is to really serve the (Saudi Arabian) armed forces,” Abukhaled said.

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