ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — A Saudi defense industry conglomerate has signed separate agreements at the International Defence Exhibition and Conference with an Emirati economic group and a Belarusian government organization with the aim of creating joint ventures.

The memorandums of understanding, signed by Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Military Industries, will see GAMI continue discussions with the Tawazun Economic Council and the Belarusian State Authority for Military Industry. GAMI hopes the memos will bring about strategic cooperation and industrial partnerships. The parties involved are eyeing potential joint projects as well as research and development opportunities between their respective defense industries.

Ask about these memos in the context of Saudi Arabia’s economic initiative known as Vision 2030, the governor of GAMI, Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz Al-Ohali said: “We are at the beginning of the vision, but have made a very good progress this year. Since when we launched GAMI in 2017, localization was 4 percent; we have doubled that already, and I think we are heading to achieve our vision target within 2030.”

GAMI is charged with building a sustainable domestic defense sector that reinforces the kingdom’s autonomy, military readiness and national security. Vision 2030 aims to see 50 percent of Saudi Arabia’s military expenditure go to local industry.

“Since GAMI’s inception, we have worked on setting up the infrastructure, the regulations, and policies and strategies for the military industry in Saudi Arabia,” Al-Ohali said. “The Tawazun agreement will be the platform for cooperation between the UAE industry and Saudi Arabia. For example, [the Saudi Arabian Military Industries’] deal with NIMR to produce armored vehicles in [the kingdom of Saudi Arabia] is very important because it sets the stage for localization, benefiting from incentives we provide in Saudi Arabia.”

He noted that the authority launched online the first domestic defense industry licensing portal online in last 2019, and since then has issued more than 114 industrial trading licenses for the defense sector. Two-thirds of those licenses are meant to promote industrialization, manufacturing, maintenance services and trading.

Agnes Helou was a Middle East correspondent for Defense News. Her interests include missile defense, cybersecurity, the interoperability of weapons systems and strategic issues in the Middle East and Gulf region.

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