Saudi Arabia, Spain ink six pacts including defense cooperation


Saudi Gazette report

MADRID — Saudi Arabia and Spain signed on Thursday six agreements, memoranda of understanding (MoU) and bilateral deals in the fields of defense, air transport and education. The agreements also focus on cultural, technological projects and other fields of development between the Kingdom and Spain.

The pacts were inked on the sidelines of the meeting between Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, and Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. During the meeting, they reviewed the Saudi-Spanish relations, the bilateral partnership in various fields as well as the opportunities for their development.

The Crown Prince signed with Spanish Defense Minister María Dolores Cospedal the executive summary to facilitate the necessary procedures for signing a contract to supply ships from the Spanish company Navantia to strengthen cooperation in the field of defense. Then the Crown Prince and Rajoy oversaw the signing of other agreements. These included an agreement on air transport signed by Minister of Commerce and Investment Majed Al-Qasabi and Spanish Minister of Transport Inigo Lasirena.

An executive program for cultural cooperation was signed by Minister of Culture and Information Awwad Al-Awwad and Spanish Minister of Education, Culture and Sports Enigo de Pigo. A MoU was inked in the field of labor and social development by Al-Qasabi and Spanish Minister of Employment and Social Security Fatima Garethia. Another MoU for scientific and technical cooperation was signed by Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources Eng. Khalid Al-Falih and Spanish Minister of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness Roman Olabaris.

The sixth agreement was for setting up joint project for development and maintenance of programs, signed by Chairman of the Board of Directors of Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) Ahmed Al-Khatib and Chief Executive Officer of Navantia Esteban Garcia Vilasánchez.

SAMI and Navantia signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) to create a joint venture (JV), that will manage and localize any naval combat systems activity including integration and installation. Both parties also inked a Letter of Intent (LoI) to design and build 5 Avante 2200 corvettes including Combat Management System, for the Ministry of Defense of Saudi Arabia.

The partnership agreement between SAMI and Navantia is expected to create 1,000 jobs with a total revenue of $8 billion by the year 2030.

Al-Khatib explained that the agreement comes in line with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and following the announcement of Prince Muhammad to localize 50% of the total military spending by 2030. “As one of the ambitious outcomes of the Crown Prince’s vision, SAMI is currently exploring all collaboration and localization opportunities to build a strong autonomous military industries ecosystem.”

“Navantia is committed to partnering with Saudi Arabia and determined to expand its presence in the Saudi and regional market,” Al-Khatib added.

Once operational, new joint venture (JV) will focus on program management and combat system integration and installation, system engineering, system architecture, hardware design, and software development, testing & verfication, prototyping, simulation, and modeling.

Vilasánchez said: “We are delighted to be working with our friends in Saudi Arabia, and we are proud of the trust Prince Muhammad places in Navantia, and our ability to contribute to achieving the objectives of the Saudi Vision 2030 through this joint venture. The historical relationship between the two kingdoms [Spain and Saudi Arabia] dates back more than six decades, and we look forward to continuing our successful partnership in support of the Kingdom’s national security and technology development needs.” — SPA/SG