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RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s national defense company plans to add an additional 1,500 employees this year with a focus on hiring more women to support diversity and inclusion.
“We believe that one of the key diversities is having females to empower females within the company and the Kingdom is moving in that direction,” Walid Abukhaled, CEO of the Saudi Arabian Military Industries, told Arab News.
At the end of last year, SAMI had about 2,500 employees, with 82 percent Saudization and females representing 22 percent of the workforce.
“This is a very new industry in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, specifically for females, (who) were not allowed to be part of this industry before, so within a very short period, to have 22 percent females, this is a huge number (and) it’s on par with any Western defense company,” Abukhaled said.
He added that as part of SAMI’s growth portfolio it is also expecting to continue to qualify, train and develop the right talents to lead the company for the future, with women holding senior leadership positions.
Abukhaled was speaking on the sidelines of the World Defense Show in Riyadh where SAMI announced that it signed contracts exceeding SR10 billion ($2.665 million) with around 14 international defense companies to form joint ventures in 2021 and also secured further deals worth SR6 billion this year.
At the end of 2021, SAMI was among the top 85 defense companies in the world, Abukhaled said of the Public Investment Fund-owned company that was established four years ago.
“As one of the largest 85 defense companies in the world, our objective is by 2030 to be one of the top 25 defense companies globally,” he added.
Abukhaled said their plans for job creation and the local, regional and international joint ventures will help achieve the 50 percent localization target by 2030.
“Now it’s the year of delivery. I want to deliver to my customers first-class products, first-class service, and solutions, so our focus in 2022 is ensuring that we have a very professional and straightforward delivery to our customers that meets their timeline, expectation, and we will ensure we deliver to time and cost,” he said.
Regarding listing on Tadawul, Abukhaled said there are long-term plans in place, but they are waiting for the right time.
However, he also said that they have to support the small and medium enterprises to strengthen the Saudi supply chain so they can also handle sophisticated technology and products in the defense sector to ensure that the ecosystem can function properly.
Abukhaled said, with the help of the Kingdom’s regulator, the General Authority for Military Industries, known as GAMI, they will ensure contracts have the right terms and conditions that help the defense industry.
Also, the armed and security forces are keen to ensure that the objective of localizing 50 percent by 2030 is achievable, so they are getting humongous support from all the stakeholders, he said.
“The ultimate goal is to be the top in everything we do globally (and) after 2030 I can assure you there will be nothing but continuous growth and continuous improvement for SAMI.”
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