Saudi Arabia Aims to Support Domestic Arms Industry

In several recent interviews, Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Minister of Defense Mohammed bin Salman has emphasized Riyadh’s determination to improve its local defense industry, as part of its bid to boost self-reliance in terms of supplying the military.

Last month, in an interview with The Washington Post, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman discussed a range of topics pertaining to his country’s Vision 2030 plan, as well as Saudi relations with the United States under the new Trump Administration.

One of the kingdom’s investment targets, according to the prince, is reducing the reliance on foreign military equipment.

The Washington Post noted the Deputy Crown Prince discussed “creating a domestic arms industry, reducing the $60 billion to $80 billion the kingdom spends annually to buy weapons abroad.”

Riyadh, with one of the world’s biggest defense budgets, is a major importer of foreign weapons, especially Western-manufactured weapons. Under Vision 2030, unveiled in 2016, Saudi Arabia wants to reduce that dependency by boosting its own defense industry.

One way Saudi Arabia is looking to do that is through increasing the amount of work carried out domestically as part of military contracts.

Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told MBC, a Saudi-owned TV network, in an interview this month that the country will not pursue military contracts with foreign suppliers unless the contract specifies that the production of spare parts will be carried out domestically, in Saudi Arabia.

He added, “We are working on endorsing production of military products. We focus on increasing production for the needs of the military industry.”

Further production domestically can lower the cost of military contracts while boosting local jobs.

About Derek Bisaccio

Military markets analyst, covering Eurasia, Middle East, and Africa.

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