Saudi Arabia’s World Defense Show 2024 to woo investors, attract wider audience
RIYADH: The World Defense Show 2024 is gearing up to be a significant global event, and one of the key highlights is Turkiye’s debut.
The show, scheduled for February next year, will witness the presence of 29 Turkish defense companies, making it one of the largest country pavilions with a vast exhibiting space of 3,229 sq. meters.
In an interview with Arab News, Mansour Al-Babtain, chief liaison officer for Saudi Arabia at WDS, emphasized the significance of Turkiye’s participation at the forthcoming event.
He said: “This not only reflects the growth of WDS but also underscores the global interest in the Saudi Arabian market.”
Prominent countries’ participation
Al-Babtain highlighted the significant growth in the number of countries participating in the show next year compared to the first edition.
“WDS 2024 is set to witness over 60 exhibiting countries, a substantial increase of more than 20 nations compared to the first edition. We are excited to welcome first-time representation from countries such as Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Denmark, Kuwait, Oman and several new African countries,” he said.
Al-Babtain added: “We have also observed significant expansion from returning countries, with pavilions from the Czech Republic, Greece, China, India, Switzerland, Italy and Sudan growing substantially.
“Turkiye, in its first appearance, has already secured the position of the third-largest country represented at the event, following China and Saudi Arabia. Notable countries like France, South Korea, the US, and the UAE have also committed to large floor space.”
Future Talent program
Discussing the Future Talent program, Al-Babtain emphasized its crucial role in providing a pipeline of young talent for the growing defense sector.
He said: “A growing sector demands a steady influx of young talent. In line with Saudi’s Military Industries Human Capital Strategy, our Future Talent program serves as a platform to connect potential scientists, innovators and leaders with opportunities across the defense supply chain.
“Saudi Arabia’s substantial investments in education, skills and training call for businesses operating in the country to align with these human capability development programs.”
He added that at WDS 2022, they successfully connected over 5,000 students specializing in science, technology, engineering and mathematics to career opportunities and apprenticeship programs in the defense sector.
“For WDS 2024, we have set an ambitious target of connecting 8,000 students, collaborating with GAMI (General Authority for Military Industries) and other industry bodies to bridge the skills gap and provide opportunities for young Saudis,” Al-Babtain explained.
Role of Meet the KSA Government Program
Al-Babtain elaborated on the significance of the Meet the KSA Government program, stating: “World Defense Show was conceived by GAMI to support the Saudi leadership’s vision of localizing 50 percent of domestic defense equipment and services expenditure by 2030.
“Our program serves as a vital pathway for international players to gain insights into the latest defense procurement policies, procedures and processes in the Kingdom.”
He emphasized that the Meet the KSA Government Program “provides a unique opportunity for participants to meet senior government representatives and decision-makers responsible for national procurement. This allows for potential partnerships and collaborations within Saudi Arabia, offering exciting prospects for future engagements.”
Global defense industry collaboration
Al-Babtain highlighted WDS’s role as a unique platform for the global defense industry to connect and collaborate.
“WDS serves as a global forum that brings together the entire defense sector, spanning nations, supply chains and diverse groups. By fostering collaboration and partnership opportunities across technology, intelligence and hardware sectors, WDS has become a convener for a more inclusive and diverse defense industry,” he said.
Al-Babtain added: “With exhibitors from more than 60 countries and over 100 official delegations from 50 countries, along with trade, media and governmental visitors from across the world, the show provides an unmatched opportunity for attendees to participate in a wide range of military, security and defense presentations, discussions and panels.”
Potential investment opportunities
Asked about potential investment opportunities from participating in the show, Al-Babtain replied: “It is challenging to quantify the exact extent of potential investment opportunities resulting from the show, both in the short and long term. However, during the last edition, we witnessed deals worth SR29.6 billion ($7.9 billion) signed over the four days.”
“With the show’s expanded format, featuring increased exhibition space and a five-day duration, and a larger number of exhibitors, the potential investment opportunities are immense and should not be overlooked,” he emphasized.