The U.S.-Saudi Business Council, in collaboration with our platinum member Al Dhabaan & Partners in association with Eversheds Sutherland hosted a virtual defense industry discussion with former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Industrial Affairs and current Partner at Eversheds Sutherland, Mr. Jeffrey Bialos, and Partner at Al Dhabaan & Partners, Anmar Al Gharifi. U.S. defense companies and industry stakeholders were presented insightful updates on the U.S. regulatory landscape as it relates to technology transfer and information security as well core joint venture issues and changes in Saudi law and regulations in the evolving local defense industry.
Mr. Bialos spoke about the shift for U.S. companies from sales to more involved industrial cooperation in Saudi Arabia to adapt to the goals of Vision 2030. He noted how the U.S. Commerce Department is examining new categories of Critical Technology including artificial intelligence, robotics, UAVs and more to add to the Commerce Control List. Mr. Bialos also discussed the need for U.S. companies and Saudi partners to address security needs for both classified information and controlled unclassified information (CUI). “NIST rules on CUI and cybersecurity will need to be evaluated by U.S. firms entering into cooperative arrangements with Saudi Arabia,” he said.
Mr. Al Gharifi emphasized reforms the Saudi government has made to the legal and regulatory landscape to encourage investment in the defense space. He also explained the licensing requirements set by GAMI for U.S. defense firms working with the Ministry of Defense and Saudi Arabian military branches.
In remarks at the outset of the webinar, H. Delano Roosevelt, President and CEO of the U.S.-Saudi Business Council, highlighted the importance of Saudi Arabia as a defense market for U.S. companies, noting that Saudi Arabia is the third largest spender in the world for defense and security. In closing, he emphasized the role of the Council to support members in defense and other sectors with relevant and accurate information, industry connections and counseling.