Under the patronage of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the 2nd edition of the World Defense Show is set to kick off on February 4. Under the theme (Equipped for Tomorrow), the event will take place in Riyadh from February 4 to 8, 2024.
Organized by the General Authority for Military Industries, this exhibition will be attended by prominent decision-makers in the field of defence from around the world, showcasing the latest technologies in military manufacturing.
In its 2nd edition, the World Defense Show (WDS) receives the gracious patronage of King Salman bin Abdulaziz, reflecting Saudi Arabia’s leadership’s commitment to achieving global leadership in military industries and contributing to the enhancement of the defence sector’s role in the national economy.
Moreover, this event constitutes a pivotal platform for the global defence community, providing a comprehensive view of the latest defence technologies and promoting global discussions and collaboration.
As the defence sector continues to evolve, this exhibition remains a key event in shaping the future of global defence strategies and capabilities.
Designed to be one of the world’s premier defence and security expos, the World Defense Show attracts more than 750 exhibitors and companies from over ٧٧ countries, approximately ٢١٩ official delegations and 100,000 local and foreign visitors.
The exhibition spans an area of over 800,000 square meters, featuring exhibition halls, hospitality suites, buyer-seller meetings, an aircraft runway, a 3-kilometre airshow, and a media centre.
The purpose of this exhibition is to strengthen the Kingdom’s position as a leading global destination in military industries by promoting localization and local defence manufacturing, exchanging manufacturing expertise, leveraging the latest technologies, and highlighting the advancements in military technologies.
The event will showcase the future of defence in land, sea, air, space, and information security, featuring the latest operational compatibility systems worldwide, along with the newest models of military aircraft, drones, and satellites.
The show also attracts key decision-makers in local, regional, and international defence fields, including major global defence companies, providing promising opportunities for strategic partnerships between global suppliers and buyers through a one-on-one meetings program (B2B Connect).
Future of Defense Forum
This year’s edition features a special program to inform visitors about the latest technologies that will shape the future of defence, the Future of Defense Forum.
This program includes various events and platforms accompanying the exhibition.
The first day is dedicated to VIPs, official delegations, government entities, exhibitors, the media and the organisation of the Future of Defense Forum, featuring opening ceremonies and intellectual leadership sessions with top government, military, and industrial officials, who will discuss the future of the global defence sector.
This exclusive event will offer insights from prominent figures, including Engineer Ahmed Abdulaziz Al Ohali, Governor of the General Authority for Military Industries, Lieutenant General Fayyad Al-Ruwaili, Chief of the General Staff of the Saudi Armed Forces, Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih, and Waleed Abu Khaled, CEO of the Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI). They, along with other influential speakers, will share their perspectives on the expected defence challenges in the coming decade.
Through the (Delegations Program), this show enables exhibitors to meet buyers and military representatives from various countries globally.
The program, in its upcoming edition, is set to attract over 219 delegations from 147 countries. This program, spanning the exhibition’s days, plays a crucial role in the Kingdom’s efforts to enhance communication between international companies and government entities.
Meet the KSA Government Program
The (Meet the KSA Government Program) is a cornerstone of WDS 2024, providing participants with a valuable platform to understand and benefit from the growing opportunities in Saudi Arabia’s defence sector.
This program aims to help participants understand the available opportunities in the Kingdom’s defence and security industry.
Furthermore, it introduces exhibitors and visitors to key Saudi government entities, enhancing awareness of procurement procedures, investment requirements, and strategic partnership processes in line with the overall goals of the national defence industry.
This initiative presents a valuable opportunity for building relationships and cooperation within the Saudi defence sector, through sessions featuring presentations by representatives from key entities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, such as the General Authority for Military Industries, the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Interior, the National Cybersecurity Authority, and others.
This makes it a fundamental platform for those interested in understanding the Saudi defence ecosystem.
Innovative Ideas and Programs
This edition introduces several innovative ideas and programs, including:
Future of Defense Hub: This program is dedicated to showcasing the role of technology and exploring the possibilities of current and future technologies through three main activities: a research and development platform to identify universities and centres shaping the future of the defence industry, an innovation platform bringing together future leaders and startups, and a main exhibition hall where innovators meet investors to present ideas through presentations.
Defense Space Arena: This program highlights the importance of space and its impact on all aspects of security, defence, industry, and investment in the sector.
International Women in Defense Program: Featuring top female leaders from around the world, this program aims to highlight women’s achievements, discuss ongoing challenges, and explore their contribution to the global defence and security sector.
Journey to the Future
An essential and innovative element of WDS 2024, this program offers an immersive experience for participants by showcasing the most forward-looking features and reviewing the capabilities of new products.
Designed to attract visitors by providing insights into the latest trends and technologies shaping the future of the defence sector, this program serves as a unique platform for presenting advanced solutions and highlighting releases and developments from leading companies. Moreover, it will encompass a range of exciting features, including the Space Arena, Future of Defense Hub, Future Talent Program, Content Theaters and Live Displays.
Defense Space Arena
Recognizing the increasing significance of space technologies in military capabilities and national security, this program seeks to enhance international cooperation and participation among major space entities by showcasing cutting-edge space capabilities and technologies.
Moreover, the Defense Space Arena will focus on the strategic space aspirations of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, shedding light on future opportunities for the Kingdom and its international partners in this vital and growing field.
Live and Static Displays
The show offers its visitors a unique opportunity to witness live and static displays up-close, including air shows featuring jet and helicopter performances, as well as military vehicle demonstrations throughout the exhibition days.
These displays aim to highlight the various future capabilities of military operations and give exhibitors from around the world the opportunity to showcase future defence and security technologies, with various live and static platforms demonstrating future defence and security technologies across land, sea, air, and space.
Advancing Localization Efforts
The World Defense Show serves as a global meeting point for military manufacturers and buyers worldwide, contributing to achieving the targets of Saudi Vision 2030 regarding knowledge exchange and localizing more than 50% of its defence spending by 2030. The exhibition provides an attractive and nurturing environment for innovators in military manufacturing, bridging the communications gap between suppliers and buyers to enrich strategic partnerships in military innovations. The World Defense Show is one of the achievements of the General Authority for Military Industries, striving for global leadership in local military manufacturing. The authority has rapidly progressed in localizing military technologies, reaching a localization rate of 12% by the end of 2021 and relentlessly continues its pursuit to achieve a 50% localization rate of military spending by 2030, showcasing a commitment to advancing the country’s defence capabilities.
By: Ikram Bendalla (researcher specializing in military affairs)