World Defense Show to add $133mln to Saudi GDP, create 5000 jobs

The World Defense Show has already allocated 85% of its space to exhibitors

The Kingdom Tower is seen in Central Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Image used for illustrative purpose.

The Kingdom Tower is seen in Central Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Image used for illustrative purpose.

REUTERS/Peter Macdiarmid
LONDON: The World Defense Show (WDS), the global security event to be held in Riyadh next March, is expected to add SR500 million to Saudi Arabia's GDP and create 5000 jobs, according to its head.

The show, held under the patronage of King Salman, will benefit companies and entities directly connected to the event, as well as those in the local supply chain, Shaun Ormrod, CEO of the WDS, told Arab News in an interview at the sidelines of the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) exhibition in London.

Jobs in transport, hospitality, construction and defense will be among those boosted by the show, which is set to be held on March 6 next year.

The WDS has already allocated 85 percent of its space to exhibitors, with more than 100 Saudi firms signed up to take part.

Ormrod said that as WDS is a marketplace bringing together the international community with the local supply chain and the Saudi Ministry of Defense, it will directly and indirectly create over 5,000 local jobs.

“How many more it will create in the next decade or so is something that’s yet to be calculated, but it’s a huge impact for the local economy,” he added.

He said that WDS are keen to find local partners to source a lot of the manufacturing, supply and technology needed for the show.

Advocates for the show were part of a Saudi delegation to the DSEI exhibition in London this week, alongside companies such as Saudi Arabian Military Industries and Saudi General Authority of Military Industries.

Omrod said the reaction they have received during the first two days of the DESI exhibition had been “phenomenal,” and exceeded all their expectations so far.

A warm welcome was extended by the United Kingdom’s defense secretary, as he talked up the importance of cooperation with Saudi Arabia, particularly in aerospace.

Ben Wallace said: “We have had a partnership for 40 to 50 years in aerospace and the next phase is exactly that, the next phase. It’s time that together we take Saudi and British capacity together, in Saudi with Saudi skills, for the next generation, I think that’s really very important, absolutely vital.”

His comments came during a tour of the Kingdom’s pavilion at the DSEI trade show, accompanied by Saudi ambassador to the UK, Prince Khalid bin Bandar.

“The Saudi people, after all that investment, they will see a return, and I think it will be very good,” Wallace said, adding: “The Saudis have been our friends for many, many, many decades and will continue to be so.”

The Kingdom’s pavilion was among the largest in one of the world’s most important defense trade fairs, alongside major companies such as Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, Airbus and Rolls Royce, as well as other countries displaying their military powers.

“I’m thrilled to see Saudi industry developing at the pace it has,” the Saudi ambassador told Arab News. “We are creating a lot of jobs and diversifying our economy, and this is a sign of the development we are seeing in Saudi Arabia and the changes that King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman have brought on.”

He said that this bodes well for the future development of technology, jobs and industry on a world scale, “so we are very proud.”

WDS will offer many programs including the Future Talent Program, designed to help prepare the next generation of Saudi defense industry leaders, the CEO said.

Other programs tailored for show participants include Official Military Delegations, Meet the KSA Government, Meet the Buyer and an Investor-Investee Program, he added.

Ormrod said: “The event has been three years in the planning and in the making, we started back in 2018 and it’s part of a royal decree, and it’s a small part of the Vision 2030 to diversify industry sectors away from petrochemical.”

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