RIYADH: The signing of an agreement between the Saudi Arabian Military Industries and French aerospace company Safran has added strategic depth to the already strong defense ties between Riyadh and Paris, a top official said on Wednesday.
In an interview with Arab News on the sidelines of the Paris Air Show, SAMI CEO Walid Abukhaled said the Kingdom is working with several original equipment manufacturers to strengthen its global supply chain.
He said the partnership with the French defense company will help Aircraft Accessories & Components Co., a subsidiary of SAMI, launch repair services for landing gears of major helicopters such as Super Puma and Cougar, thus establishing itself as a maintenance, repair, and overhaul provider.
The SAMI chief described the ongoing Paris Air Show as “a great networking opportunity” that helped the Kingdom sign strategic partnership deals with several original equipment manufacturers from around the world.
“We’ve signed 12 joint ventures with the best and largest global OEMs globally,” Abukhaled told Arab News.
He added: “We have (signed) a joint venture with Boeing, we have a joint venture with Airbus, we have a joint venture with L3 Harris. Those are some of the few big OEMs that we are working with. We have (also) signed an agreement with Safran.”
Talking about the World Defense Show to be held in February next year in the Saudi capital, the top official said SAMI will launch several initiatives to strengthen the global supply chain.
He said the Kingdom is collaborating with major equipment manufacturers to resolve the global supply chain issue which became evident during the pandemic.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, all of the OEMs experienced huge issues with supply chains, not only in the defense but also in the automotive industry, the food industry, every industry. I believe Saudi Arabia now will be a huge asset to all of those OEMs,” said Abukhaled.
He further noted: “We have already worked with and discussed it with all of our partners and other OEMs, and there are real opportunities. We will announce them during the World Defense show that’s taking place in February 2024…about how Saudi companies are becoming part of the global supply chains.”
Abukhaled reiterated that SAMI aims to become one of the top 25 defense companies globally by 2030.
He said that SAMI has hired some of the best local and global talents and is initiating acquisitions and partnerships to achieve this goal.
The official said it may appear to be a challenge to achieve the goal in such a short period, but the company is “extremely confident” about its success in collaboration with its partners.
He added: “Putting all of this together; our global partners, the local acquisition, and the best global and local mindsets. We are extremely confident that we will become one of the top 25 companies in the world.”
Abukhaled also added that Saudi Arabia’s visionary leadership is helping SAMI grow.
“Vision 2030 made us focus extremely well in delivering on what we are supposed to do. Our mandate is to localize 50 percent of the defense spending. The support we’re getting from the wise leadership in the Kingdom is second to none,” he said.
Talking about nurturing Saudi talent in the defense sector, Abukhaled said that SAMI has arranged special training programs in collaboration with its international partners.
“We do have really qualified Saudi nationals. We also have some qualified international experts who support young talents to get expertise and knowledge. What we’re doing is seconding the engineers to go and work abroad at our partner facilities,” concluded Abukhaled.