Saudi Arabia announced Wednesday that it will be launching a national weapons manufacturing company as part of a jobs program and in order to diversify its economy.
The new company will be called Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI), and aims to become one of the top 25 defense companies in the world by the year 2030, according to a statement by the Saudi Public Investment Fund.
Saudi Arabia’s efforts to produce more weapons domestically is a part of the kingdom’s “Vision 2030” project which aims to diversify and transform its economy beyond oil.
“As we continue to give our army the best possible machinery and equipment, we plan to manufacture half of our military needs within the Kingdom to create more job opportunities for citizens and keep more resources in our country,” said Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Chairman of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs while introducing Vision 2030.
Saudi Arabia is among the world’s top military spenders in the world, only ranking behind the United States, Russia, and China. According to the Gulf International Bank 32 percent of its total budget is devoted to military. The gulf kingdom is also the largest purchaser of U.S. manufactured arms.
As president Trump is scheduled to visit the the Saudi Capital Riyadh later this month, he is expected to discuss the extension of weapons deals worth tens of billions of dollars.
The oil-rich state that has long been a close regional ally to the U.S. has been waging a bloody and deadly war in Yemen that has killed more than 10,000 people since it was launched in 2015. Millions more have been displaced by the conflict, and millions more lack access to basic necessities like clean water, food, and medicine.
The United Nations has deemed the ongoing famine resulting from the conflict as a “humanitarian crisis.”
As Saudi Arabian bombs and missiles, largely provided through U.S. and British support, continue to rain on Yemen’s infrastructure, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs warned in a report that around 19 million Yemenis lack access to food.