Anna-Karin Rosen, Managing Director – Saab to «AL JUNDI»: The UAE is one of our most important markets with huge defensive capabilities

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Saab is one of the most important international companies providing different countries around the world with products‭, ‬services‭, ‬and innovative solutions in the defence‭, ‬security‭, ‬and space sectors‭. ‬To better understand Saab’s fields of work‭, ‬products‭, ‬and investments‭, ‬as well as its latest projects in the UAE‭, ‬Al Jundi Journal interviewed Anna-Karin Rosen‭, ‬Managing Director of Saab in the UAE‭, ‬and had the following dialogue‭:‬

What are Saab’s fields of work and its most prominent products in the UAE‭?‬

Saab is a leading defence and security company with an enduring mission‭, ‬to help nations keep their people and society safe‭.‬

Empowered by its 18,000‭ ‬talented people‭, ‬in 35‭ ‬countries‭, ‬Saab constantly pushes the boundaries of technology to create a safer‭ ‬and more sustainable world‭. ‬Saab has a long history with the UAE‭, ‬with our operations dating back to the 1980s‭. ‬We have grown a‭ ‬lot since then‭, ‬which led to our operations taking full bloom in 2018‭ ‬when we created Saab Ltd‭., ‬a wholly Saab-owned company‭, ‬based in Abu Dhabi‭, ‬UAE‭.‬

These few years have shaped our role in the UAE in many ways wherein we established a development and production centre in Abu Dhabi’s Tawazun Industrial Park‭ (‬TIP‭) ‬shortly after the creation of our business in 2018‭. ‬We agreed on a business plan with Tawazun Economic Council in 2019‭, ‬as a first step towards the continuous development of Saab’s Abu Dhabi operations‭.‬

Who is Anna-Karin Rosen‭, ‬Managing Director of Saab UAE‭?‬

Before starting my Saab career in 1999‭, ‬I worked briefly as a civilian in the Swedish Air Force and spent four years in Washington DC as a diplomat‭.‬

‭ ‬I then worked for 12‭ ‬years in Saab’s Aeronautics development and engineering departments‭, ‬specializing in system safety and reliability for fighter aircraft‭.‬

In 2011‭, ‬I moved with my family to Bangkok where I held the position of country manager Thailand for Saab’s Aeronautics business‭. ‬This was followed in 2014‭ ‬by another position as head of marketing and sales for the Gripen fighter aircraft in the Middle East and Africa‭, ‬based in Pretoria‭, ‬South Africa‭. ‬

In 2017‭, ‬I moved with my family to Abu Dhabi for the position of Offset Program Director UAE‭, ‬and in 2018‭, ‬I was appointed Managing Director of Saab in UAE‭.‬

How important are the UAE and GCC markets to Saab‭?‬

Saab has seen substantial international growth in recent years with an increased presence in key countries‭, ‬UAE being one of these key countries‭. ‬The UAE has a lot to offer when it comes to its defence capabilities and this has been shown through the various international partnerships it is undertaken in recent months‭.‬

As a local‭, ‬homegrown company‭, ‬we believe that partnerships are key to success and essential to building both a strong foundation and a defence and security ecosystem in the UAE‭.‬

How do you assess the cooperation between Saab and the United Arab Emirates‭?‬

We always advocate for greater collaboration between government‭, ‬industry‭, ‬and academia as per the Triple Helix Model‭. ‬This helps in driving ideas and generating innovative products for dual military and civilian use‭, ‬as well as supporting job creation‭, ‬commercializing R&D‭, ‬and improving the UAE’s competitiveness in the sector‭.  ‬The Triple Helix approach was featured prominently in‭ ‬all areas of Saab’s developments‭. ‬All complex projects require the involvement of different partners and competencies‭, ‬input from academia and government in the form of research‭, ‬funding‭, ‬and strategic direction‭. ‬We are well placed to understand the local‭ ‬customers‭’ ‬requirements and provide high-tech customized solutions to meet these demands‭. ‬With a growing team of around 150‭ ‬employees‭, ‬both foreign and local‭, ‬we are in the right place to further establish our presence in the UAE and support it in becoming a leader in the field‭.‬

What is Saab’s investment in the UAE and who do you primarily work with‭?‬

We have formed strong and long-lasting relationships with a variety of key industrial players‭, ‬governmental decision-makers‭, ‬and‭ ‬academic researchers‭. ‬

We have made significant contributions to the local industry and pride ourselves on playing a central role in the UAE’s growth in the sector‭, ‬whether by reinvesting a large share of our sales in research and development‭, ‬continuing close dialogue with customers‭, ‬partners‭, ‬and universities‭, ‬or exploring new technology solutions with local players‭, ‬including the Tawazun Economic Council with whom we work developing Saab’s Abu Dhabi operations‭. ‬Saab also has a joint venture with Gulf Air Space Co LLC‭ (‬GACO‭), ‬where Saab Middle East LLC owns 49‭ % ‬and GACO owns 51‭ %.‬

What new products is Saab offering the UAE and Gulf region‭?‬

Products and systems that Saab has delivered to the UAE and the region include systems for naval command and control‭, ‬naval radar‭, ‬underwater vehicles‭, ‬self-protection‭, ‬signature management‭, ‬airborne surveillance‭, ‬field hospitals‭, ‬training‭, ‬security‭, ‬management and communication‭, ‬and traffic management‭.‬

The latest development includes Saab’s Integrated Air Traffic Control Suite to be implemented at Dubai International Airport and‭ ‬Al Maktoum International Airport‭. ‬The contract‭, ‬awarded to Saab by Dubai Aviation Engineering Projects includes approximately 95‭ ‬controller positions which will be distributed between the two airports‭, ‬the Emirates Flight Training Academy‭, ‬and the Contingency Operations Center‭.‬

One of Saab’s flagship products is GlobalEye‭, ‬the world’s most advanced airborne early warning and control solution‭. ‬The GlobalEye program with the UAE is running according to plan and Saab recently received a follow-on contract in 2021‭ ‬regarding the sale‭ ‬of two more GlobalEye systems‭. ‬We also signed an agreement with Tawazun earlier this year in the area of secure communications‭. ‬This follows multiple agreements for other sectors concluded in the previous months between Saab and Tawazun‭.‬

The agreement involved the local development of a state-of-the-art‭, ‬ruggedized‭, ‬5G communication system for military and crisis‭ ‬operations‭, ‬offering fast‭, ‬reliable and secure voice and data communication to deliver a complete end-to-end solution optimally‭ ‬suited to customer needs‭. ‬

What are Saab’s future plans‭? ‬

While Sweden remains at the core of Saab’s strategic foundation‭, ‬the company’s future success is tied to its ability to expand and grow internationally‭. ‬Aided by strong partnerships and a high-tech offering within core technology areas‭, ‬Saab is committed to becoming a global multi-domestic company and strengthening its position in strategic markets‭. ‬This will enable further growth‭ ‬on the company’s journey‭.‬

Aided by partnerships with domestic suppliers‭, ‬Saab has an established local operational presence as well as an installed base in countries where future business opportunities have been identified‭.‬

Key drivers for growth will be increased order intake and domestic sales‭, ‬R&D‭, ‬investments‭, ‬and export with support from partnerships‭, ‬as well as industrial and university collaborations to build a platform for future growth‭. ‬The UAE is of course one of these strategic countries for growth.In the UAE Saab has grown immensely since 2018‭, ‬from both a talent and technical perspective‭.‬‭ ‬We are growing an important portfolio of locally developed products right from our development centre in Abu Dhabi‭.‬

What are your biggest accomplishments in the defence sector‭?‬

2021‭ ‬and 2022‭ ‬have been eventful and Saab in UAE is proud to have made several accomplishments thanks to our multitude of local‭ ‬partners‭. ‬Our relationship with the UAE is built on trust which is reflected by receiving a follow-up contract in 2021‭ ‬regarding‭ ‬the sale of two more GlobalEye systems‭. ‬We recently launched a state-of-the art‭, ‬ruggedized‭, ‬5G communication system for military and crisis operations at the Umex SimTEX 2022‭ ‬exhibition in Abu Dhabi‭, ‬the DeployNet‭.  ‬Locally developed in the UAE‭, ‬Deploynet will be a precious asset to both military and civilian markets where there is a requirement for a ruggedized‭, ‬quickly deployable 5G/LTE network‭, ‬not just here in the UAE but for export globally‭, ‬particularly in regions without an existing fixed communications network‭.‬

What are Saab’s short-term goals and where do you see Saab in the long term‭?‬

To grow and stay competitive in a global market‭, ‬Saab continues to focus on investments in new technologies‭. ‬Rapid advancements‭ ‬in technology are pushing the boundaries of innovation and efficiency‭, ‬but also enabling transitions to sustainable solutions‭. ‬Together with our international partners‭, ‬Saab is focusing its future investments on Artificial Intelligence‭, ‬Autonomy‭, ‬Cyber‭, ‬and Cloud-technology‭, ‬and Saab will continuously invest in these fields to secure excellence in competence and future capabilities‭. ‬We continued to execute our global multi-domestic strategy and strengthened our position in important markets‭. ‬As we are growing our local footprint in strategic markets‭, ‬we are continuously supporting key national capabilities and technologies‭. ‬Our commitment to our customers and society can only be realized if we maintain our capability edge and stay at the forefront of technology‭, ‬whilst being more sustainable‭. ‬Our employees are instrumental in this journey‭, ‬and Saab is continuously looking to attract‭ ‬new talent and invest in them to maintain this edge‭.‬

Space‭, ‬innovation‭, ‬and cyber security are of great interest to the UAE leadership‭. ‬What is Saab doing to enable the UAE to achieve progress in these three domains‭?‬

The UAE’s space industry is rapidly evolving as it explores the latest technology solutions and enters conversations to involve‭ ‬the private sector in its ambition to grow‭. ‬We recognized this achievement and as such had the privilege in October of 2021‭ ‬to host the European Space Agency astronaut and Saab space advisor Christer Fuglesang‭, ‬who has been on two space shuttle missions and five spacewalks‭, ‬with the Swedish Pavilion at Expo 2020‭ ‬for Space Week‭.‬

As part of our space offer‭, ‬Saab has been developing high-end technology that contributes to improving its users‭’ ‬understanding‭ ‬of the Earth‭. ‬With extensive experience in developing and implementing complex command and control systems‭, ‬Saab has broadened its offer with a solution connecting several of the company’s existing products and sensor information with satellite data‭.‬

We strive to call for greater collaboration between government‭, ‬industry‭, ‬and academia‭. ‬This will help drive ideas and generate‭ ‬innovative products for dual military and civilian use‭, ‬as well as support job creation‭, ‬commercialize R&D‭, ‬and improve the UAE‭’‬s competitiveness in the sector‭.‬

Would you like to send any message through Al Jundi Journal to the defense community in general‭, ‬or the UAE in particular‭?‬

The UAE has immense potential and its local talent is growing across the industry with a particular focus placed on attracting more Emirati talent in the defence and security sector‭.‬

There are numerous training programs that Saab has invested in that cater to upskilling Emirati talent across the UAE and equip‭ ‬them with the right tools to become experts in the field‭. ‬We are an early investor in the UAE and are committed to future investments for the long-term prosperity of the country‭.‬


Managing Director of Saab in UAE‭.‬

Anna moved to Abu Dhabi in October 2017‭ ‬for the position of Offset Program Director UAE‭.‬

Before starting her Saab career in 1999‭, ‬Anna worked briefly as a civilian in the Swedish Air Force and spent four years in Washington DC as a diplomat‭. ‬She then worked for 12‭ ‬years in the Aeronautics‭’ ‬development and engineering departments‭, ‬specializing‭ ‬in System Safety‭ & ‬Reliability for fighter aircraft‭.‬

In 2011‭, ‬Anna moved with her family to Bangkok where she held the position of Country Manager Thailand for Saab Aeronautics‭. ‬This was followed in 2014‭ ‬with a Marketing‭ & ‬Sales position as Head of Gripen for the Middle East‭ & ‬Africa Market Area‭, ‬based in Pretoria‭, ‬South Africa‭. ‬

Anna has Mechanical Engineering‭ (‬MSc‭), ‬Business Administration‭ (‬BSc‭), ‬and HTO‭ (‬BSc‭; ‬Human‭, ‬Technology‭, ‬Organisation‭).

»  ‬Interviewed by‭: «AL JUNDI»

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