The U.S.-Saudi Business Council (USSBC), in partnership with Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI), the Kingdom’s regulator, enabler, and licensor of the defense sector, conducted two executive roundtable presentations and discussions as part of GAMI’s two-week roadshow to the U.S., titled “Flourishing Opportunities in Saudi Arabia’s Defense Sector.” The executive roundtables, presentations, and high-level one-on-one meetings were held in Washington, D.C. on September 29th and in Long Beach, California on October 3rd, 2022. The two programs effectively served to promote business opportunities within the Kingdom’s defense sector.
With over 100 attendees, the roundtables included notable American defense companies that were carefully selected and vetted, ranging from Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), Tier II and Tier III suppliers, investors, and the latest defense innovators, among others.
GAMI’s Governor, H.E. Ahmad Al-Ohali, spoke about the decades’ long defense relationship between Saudi and the U.S. and the ongoing involvement of U.S. companies operating in the Kingdom. The Governor expressed confidence that these partnerships would enable Saudi Arabia to reach its localization goals, and also emphasized the importance of participation from SMEs.
“Several large OEMs here in this room today have been already present in Saudi Arabia for many decades, helping us realize our Vision 2030 goal of localizing more than 50 percent of our military expenditure by 2030. It is a very ambitious goal within a short period, but with the support of our friends here and globally, we will work very hard to achieve that regardless of the challenge,” said Mr. Al-Ohali, at the first workshop in Washington, D.C. on September 29th.
He also added that this trip to the U.S. is merely the beginning, and that GAMI is determined to work even more closely with its U.S. partners and stakeholders to accelerate the Kingdom’s localization agenda.
Saudi Arabia’s flourishing defense ecosystem is presenting opportunities for local and international investors across the spectrum. GAMI’s supply chain localization program alone includes 74 investment opportunities worth billions of dollars, drawing significant interest from global industry OEMs and suppliers who want to take part in Saudi Arabia’s localization journey.
Speaking at the same event, H. Delano Roosevelt, President and CEO of the USSBC, invited investors and U.S. companies to connect with the Saudi delegation and identify the areas in which they could support GAMI’s localization strategy.
“We are honored to continue our close collaboration with GAMI,” Mr. Roosevelt noted. “U.S. companies have historically played a significant role in contributing to the Kingdom’s defense sector. The U.S.-Saudi Business Council was pleased to partner with GAMI to bolster this long-standing relationship, introduce the latest investment opportunities within Saudi Arabia’s defense sector supply chain, and facilitate new partnerships in emerging defense technology fields.”
USSBC Board member Eng. Walid Abukhaled, Chief Executive Officer of Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI), also addressed the audience in a keynote presentation discussing how to become a Tier I defense contractor and spoke on key opportunities for international partnerships. SAMI is Saudi Arabia’s private sector champion for defense and tasked with developing defense capabilities to support the Kingdom. USSBC member Gen. Joe Rank (Retired), Chief Executive Officer of Lockheed Martin Saudi Arabia, also delivered remarks, highlighting the manufacturing opportunities for OEMs in Saudi Arabia and how to successfully navigate the market.
GAMI also held a workshop in Long Beach, California, later during the trip, where the Deputy Governor for Military Industry, Mr. Gasem Al-Maimani, spoke with U.S. defense manufacturers and technology integrators about the ease of doing business in Saudi and contributing to its defense localization journey.
After a networking luncheon, the attendees held one-on-one meetings with the GAMI team to discuss the technical side of possible business opportunities and explore the potential for future partnerships.
During their visit to the U.S., the GAMI delegation also visited government entities, defense universities, and companies’ facilities to raise awareness of the Authority’s role in the Kingdom, Saudi Arabia’s growing defense sector, and billions of dollars in investment opportunities arising from GAMI’s overarching Vision 2030 goals.
This program represents only one in a series of events the Business Council organizes with Saudi public and private sector partners. In just the past year, the USSBC has played a leading role in facilitating successful, high-level engagements with the Saudi Saline Water Conversion Company (SWCC), Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources (MIMR), Saudi Export Development Authority (SEDA), Saudi Aramco, Saudi Center for Commercial Arbitration, and Dussur, among others.