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Saudi Arabia Boosts Defense Capabilities, Signs Agreement with Lockheed Martin - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Workers can be seen on the moving line and forward fuselage assembly areas for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter at Lockheed Martin Corp's factory located in Fort Worth, Texas in this October 13, 2011 handout photo provided by Lockheed Martin. (REUTERS/Lockheed Martin/Randy A. Crites/Handout)

Workers can be seen on the moving line and forward fuselage assembly areas for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter at Lockheed Martin Corp’s factory located in Fort Worth, Texas in this October 13, 2011 handout photo provided by Lockheed Martin. (REUTERS/Lockheed Martin/Randy A. Crites/Handout)

Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat—Saudi Arabia has boosted its national defense capabilities after Lockheed Martin—one of the foremost aerospace, defense, and security companies in the world—signed a partnership agreement with the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) earlier this week. Lockheed Martin also opened its first headquarters in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

Lockheed Martin underscored its commitment to enhancing job creation and transferring technology and technological expertise to Saudi Arabia, in addition to helping the kingdom build its aerospace and commercial sectors.

Director of the National Electronics, Communications, and Photonics Centers at KACST, Dr. Hatim Behairy, acknowledged that this partnership will include defense and military training but stressed that it will not be limited to this.

He told Asharq Al-Awsat, “Lockheed Martin has experience in many fields that we can benefit from thanks to this agreement. This company’s presence in Saudi Arabia, after it established its first headquarters in Riyadh, means that they are serious about transferring and localizing technology in Saudi Arabia. We view this development positively.”

Dr. Behairy revealed that the agreement states that Lockheed Marin will train qualified Saudi cadres, transferring its technological expertise to a new generation of Saudi youth. He emphasized that this will include the defense, medical, military and technological sectors, as well as other fields that the American company excels in.

Dr. Behairy also pointed out that Saudi universities will also benefit from the cooperation agreement. He said, “Lockheed Martin will open its laboratories to Saudi doctors, students, and researchers, and there will also be direct meetings with a number of American experts who work in the various sectors that Lockheed Martin excels in.”

For its part, Lockheed Martin emphasized its commitment to providing job opportunities and transferring technology to Saudi Arabia, not to mention helping Riyadh establish a strong national aerospace industry. This is in line with steps to support Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2020 project and improve national defense capabilities.

Speaking at the inauguration of Lockheed Martin’s new headquarters in Riyadh, CEO Marillyn Hewson said, “Saudi Arabia is a strategically important market for our company and today marks a significant step in strengthening our partnership with the Kingdom. We have been supporting the Kingdom for nearly five decades, and are committed to working with our local partners to develop mutually beneficial business opportunities for the future.”

She added, “The United States has a strong strategic partnership with the Kingdom and we are honored to be part of that team. So, we look forward to working closely with our Saudi partners to support the Kingdom’s efforts to create a more technology-focused economy as part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2020. We are focused on developing partnerships that sustain long-term jobs for Saudi people in the security, aerospace, and commercial sectors.”

Lockheed Martin has an active partnership with KACST, King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST), and Alfaisal University in Riyadh.

The partnership is focused on helping the Kingdom respond to the challenges of the next decade. This partnership will see Lockheed Martin working to empower Saudi youth through education, knowledge transfer and engagement, bringing tangible long-term benefits to Saudi Arabia as a whole.

Lockheed Martin’s official website boasts, “From integrated air and missile defense to maritime modernization to tactical missiles to satellite communications, Lockheed Martin offers the Kingdom the capabilities to preserve peace and stability.”

The website adds, “Lockheed Martin also recognizes that Saudi Arabia requires much more than defense and security capabilities. Our diverse portfolio of programs also includes such offerings in other areas such as health, cyber-health, security, air traffic control, and energy solutions.”

Lockheed Martin is a global security, defense, and aerospace company employing more than 120,000 people worldwide. It is one of the world’s largest defense contractors; in 2009, 74 percent of Lockheed Martin’s revenues came from military sales. It has more than 300 partnerships in 75 countries.