The second edition of the World Defense Show 2024 concluded in Riyadh with the signing of 61 purchase contracts worth $7 billion.
Over 773 participants and more than 441 Saudi delegations representing 116 countries participated in the show, and more than 106,000 visitors arrived at the pavilion.
The show also witnessed the signing of 73 agreements, including 17 industrial participation agreements.
Governor of General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI) Ahmed al-Ohali asserted that the event succeeded in linking industry leaders with innovators worldwide.
Several Saudi investors participating in the show stressed the importance of the event, describing it as a platform for building alliances with international companies specialized in the defense and military industries.
They also indicated that it represented a chance for foreign investors to learn about Saudi projects and witness the changes and qualitative renaissance in the Kingdom.
The investors pointed out that this edition paved the way for global markets to enter the defense and security industry in the Kingdom.
The exhibition has also become an influential global platform for achieving communication, exchanging knowledge, and building business relationships worldwide.
It also enables exhibitors and investors to learn about this field's latest innovations and technologies.
Asharq Al-Awsat met with local company representatives on the sidelines of the event.
During the exclusive interviews, they stated that the pavilion brings together several major companies that lead the global defense industries.
They stressed that such a category accelerates the sector's localization process by more than 50 percent, according to the targets of Vision 2030 to reduce military spending.
GAMI governor said at the event's inauguration that the Kingdom has begun to reap the fruits of government support to increase and develop military-industrial capabilities to 13.6 percent by the end of 2022.
- Explore opportunities
The CEO of Aircraft Accessories and Components Company (AACC), Mansour al-Eid, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the exhibition is an opportunity to build alliances with international companies, as it brings all investors and those interested in the sector under one roof.
Eid noted that the event saves time, effort, and money, allowing local companies to search for partnerships with international capitals specialized in military industries.
He noted that 70% of the AACC alliances with its global counterparts occurred during this exhibition and other exhibitions in this field, including cooperation with Chinese, European, and Turkish companies.
Eid stressed that the second edition brought together many specialized international companies, providing an excellent opportunity for its local counterparts.
He pointed out that this edition allowed global markets to enter the defense and security industry market in the Kingdom.
- Artificial intelligence
Eid explained that localization of the industry boils down to qualifying Saudis to specialize in this industry, adding that the government is working in this direction.
The private sector has a significant role, said Eid, adding that it is the engine of the economy and develops the industry, asserting that "investing in mind" will positively impact national companies.
The CEO added that the percentage of Saudization in his company reached 67%, and Saudi youth are attracted to artificial intelligence and aircraft operations.
He added that employment in artificial intelligence is one of the jobs that most require a period to invest and develop human resources.
- Integration between entities
For his part, the Director of Aeronautical and Mechanical Engineering at Intra Defense Technologies, Asim al-Rebdi, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the exhibition in its current edition has many positive revenues centered around integration between relevant authorities, customers, and legislative authorities.
Rebdi indicated that Intra displayed national solutions, which the company worked to develop and manufacture to cover the needs of the armed forces and security agencies.
According to the expert, Intra relies on its national cadres to develop and manufacture drones to achieve the vision of localizing 50% of military spending by 2030.
It also highlights national capabilities in the military and security fields by including local companies.
He told Asharq Al-Awsat about Intra's Samoum, saying the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) is an operational-class drone equipped with advanced payloads and sensors, including radars and optical systems.
Samoum is the final developed model, and the device is now in the testing stages, said Rebdi, noting that the company aims to complete the project during the next year to be ready to enter into the service.