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Saudi Arabia to invest $20bn in domestic arms industry

Kingdom wants to shift towards manufacturing much of its own weapons over the next decade after US sales ban
Saudi Arabia wants to spend at least half of its military budget locally by 2030 (AFP)

Saudi Arabia has announced plans to pump $20bn into producing more of its own weapons and military systems over the next decade. 

The country wants to spend at least half of its military budget locally by 2030, the head of the kingdom's military industry regulator said on Saturday.

"We will be investing in excess of $10bn in the military industry in Saudi Arabia over the next decade and equal amounts on research and development," the governor of the General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI), Ahmed bin Abdulaziz Al-Ohali, told a defence conference in Abu Dhabi.

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He also said the kingdom plans to increase military research and development spending from 0.2 percent to around four percent of armaments expenditure by 2030.

The announcement follows the US decision last month to declare a temporary freeze on some arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). 

US President Joe Biden's new administration announced it would pause the implementation of recent Trump-era weapons deals, including the sale of munitions to Saudi Arabia and F-35 fighter jets to the UAE.

Following the move, aimed at pressuring the countries to end the war in Yemen, other countries have also faced calls to stop selling weapons to the Gulf powers. 

The UK government has faced criticism from activists after it was revealed that $1.9bn in arms sales were approved between July and September 2020, immediately after a ban on sales to Saudi Arabia was lifted. 

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