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Saudi tanks and the supporters of the former Yemeni regime approach the key al-Anad military base in southwestern Lahij Province, Yemen, on August 3, 2015. (Photo by AFP)
Saudi Arabia says it is set to create a new military industries firm as part of its plan to become a major global arms supplier and gradually wean itself off oil revenues.
The state-owned Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) “aims to become one of the world’s top 25 defense companies by 2030,” a Thursday statement from the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) said.
The announcement came two days ahead of the planned trip of US President Donald Trump to the kingdom.
According to the PIF, SAMI will be both a manufacturer and service provider and it will be involved in maintenance and repair of fixed-wing aircraft and production of drones, military vehicle, missiles, radars and other electronic military equipment.
The firm is set to contribute nearly $3.7 billion to Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic production and invest more than $1.6 billion in research and development by 2030, creating over 40,000 jobs, the PIF noted.
A Yemeni man walks past buildings damaged in Saudi airstrikes in Ta’izz, on December 9, 2015. (AFP photo)
According to an April report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Saudi Arabia spent $63.7 billion in its military sector in 2016, making it the world’s fourth largest military spender.
Riyadh says it currently produces only two percent of its security and military needs domestically, but it plans to reach the target of 50 percent by 2030.
“SAMI will establish companies through joint ventures with global original equipment manufacturers, as well as cooperating with local military companies,” the PIF said.
Saudi Arabia, which is widely considered a key sponsor of extremist terrorist groups across the world, is now leading a deadly war on Yemen which has claimed the lives of over 12,000 so far.
The monarchy has been engaged in stifling opposition protests in its Shia-majority and oil-rich Eastern Province, especially following its January 2016 execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, who used to vociferously criticize its policies.
Saudi Arabia has also deployed military forces to Bahrain to help the Manama regime crack down on anti-regime protests there.

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