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Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) appointed Walid Abukhaled as its Chief Executive on Sunday as it pressed ahead with its plans to localise defense spending, local media reported.

Mr. Abukhaled, who was promoted from his post as Acting Chief Executive, has nearly 30 years of experience in military industries.

Prior to his role at SAMI, he served as Chief Executive for the Middle East division of defense giant Northrop Grumman and as President and Chief Executive of General Electric in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. He also worked in executive roles at BAE Systems in the UK and Saudi Arabia.

Mr. Abukhaled was also the Deputy Minister of Industrial Affairs at the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

Saudi Arabia has major plans to develop its local manufacturing industry as it seeks to diversify its economy away from oil. The Kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, created SAMI in 2017 in an effort to localise 50 per cent of the kingdom’s total military spending, up from about 2 per cent. SAMI appointed 13 industry experts to its management team in September.

Mater Al-Anazi was appointed Chief Financial Officer, following his previous roles as Chief Financial Officer for Saudi Arabia at Acwa Power International and senior financial and accounting posts with organisations such as Sagia, Ma’aden, and Sabic.

SAMI is owned by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) – Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund. Established in May 2017, SAMI operates four major divisions, including Aeronautics, Land Systems, Weapons and Missiles, and Defense Electronics.

In line with the Saudi Vision 2030’s primary objectives, SAMI expects to contribute over SAR 14 billion (US$3.7bn) to the Kingdom’s annual gross domestic product, with an investment of over SAR 6 billion (US$1.6bn) towards research and development processes, and creation of 40,000 job opportunities for Saudi youth