The first edition of the World Defense Show (WDS) took place from 6 to 9 March and gathered in Riyadh world-wide recognized defense industrial groups, interested in expanding economic-military cooperation with Saudi Arabia. A number of Italian companies exhibited state-of-the-art assets and technologies, ranging from Leonardo to Elettronica, Fincantieri, Beretta, CEIA Spa, Ferretti and Fireco, all coordinated by the Federation of Italian Companies for Aerospace, Defense and Security (AIAD).
The Saudi Ministry of Defense promoted the fair with the aim of increasing partnerships at global level in order to develop its own national industry, considered strategic under Vision 2030. At the moment the Kingdom has indeed increased capacity in maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) of imported assets and technologies but intends to maximize efforts for building the entire supply chain, by investing in research and development (4% of military spending will be assigned to R&D by 2030) and by locating in the Kingdom most or part of the production phase of its military procurement (50% of military supplies will be located in house by 2030).
During his participation at the WDS, the Undersecretary of Defense, Mr. Giorgio Mulè, met Defense Saudi authorities and highlighted the availability of Italian industries to increase cooperation in this strategic sector for the Kingdom: companies are ready to transfer know-how and technologies, as well as to open new facilities in Saudi Arabia. Mr. Mulè has also been interviewed by the well-known pan-Arabic newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat and presented the bilateral economic-military cooperation in the broader framework of the political-economic relations between Italy and Saudi Arabia (link).