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Riyadh Spent 5.1 Bln Riyals In Incentives To Local Military Industry In 2021/2022

PARIS, France - Saudi Arabia has spent 5.1 billion riyals ($1.4 billion) in incentives to boost its local military industry over the last two years, the governor of the sector's General Authority said on Monday.

Ahmad Al-Ohali said the incentives included 3.3 billion royals which was directed to research and development in the military industries in 2021 and 2022. The remaining 1.8 billion riyals was distributed to companies, including Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI), Ohali said.

SAMI's executive officer Walid Abukhaled said the company will focus on unmanned systems, radars, and cybersecurity in the coming years.

Both were speaking at a forum in Riyadh in the wake of the kingdom's 2023 budget announcements.

Developing local industries, including in the military sector, is part of a bigger plan launched by the kingdom's de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to diversify the Saudi economy away from oil.

The kingdom hopes that building up a local military industry would help cut its massive defence spending -- mostly in arms imports -- which is forecast to reach 259 billion riyals in 2023, up from an estimated 245 billion riyals in 2022.

The government had initially budgeted 171 billion riyals for 2022, down from 202 billion in 2021 as the war in Yemen had started to wind down.

''The kingdom has the third-biggest defence budget in the world, now it is the ninth thanks to spending rationalisation'', Abukhaled said.



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