Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) announced on Wednesday the launch of a national state company for arms manufacturing as part of its Vision 2030 economic and social reform program, according to reports.
The new company, the Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI), will be producing not just arms but armored vehicles and will work to repair and maintain planes or jets, repair fixed-wing aircraft, and manufacture unmanned air vehicles, Saudi Arabia’s powerful deputy crown prince and minister of defense Mohammed bin Salman said.
The creation of SAMI is expected by officials to create up to 40,000 jobs in the Kingdom – mostly in hi-tech and engineering sectors — and more than 30,000 indirect opportunities will result from this new company as well as the creation of hundreds of small and medium size companies, the local Saudi Gazette reported.
The company’s strategic objective is “to reach among the top 25 global military industrial giants by 2030, making Saudi Arabia a strong partner in the global military industry. The company’s direct contribution to the Kingdom’s gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to exceed SR14 billion,” according to the Saudi Gazette.
As Reuters notes, the move “could alter decades of practice in which Saudi Arabia – one of the world’s largest buyers of foreign arms – and other Gulf Arab states recycled a major part of their oil wealth back into Western economies via arms purchases and investments.”
That seems to be the point of creating this new industry in Saudi Arabia from scratch. “While the Kingdom is one of the world’s top five spenders on security and defense overall, only around 2 percent of our military procurement is domestic,” said Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. “It will lead the military industries sector to increase local content, increase exports and bring foreign investment to the kingdom by entering into joint ventures with major international military industry companies,” he added.
The announcement comes just days ahead of President Trump’s first international trip since inauguration, and the administration has chosen Riyadh, Saudi Arabia as the first stop. The United States and Saudi Arabia are expected to announce up to $100 billion in arms deals, some already in the pipeline, and other new defense contracts to boost Saudi defenses and enrich American defense contractors and aerospace companies.