Thales aims to double presence in Saudi Arabia, focus on defense and cybersecurity: CEO
RIYADH: French defense technology firm Thales aims to expand its presence in Saudi Arabia, propelled by the “massive” investments and opportunities in the nation, according to a top executive.
Speaking to Arab News on the sidelines of the World Defense Show, the company’s chairman and CEO, Patrice Caine, expressed the firm’s aspirations to expand its existing defense presence in Saudi Arabia, particularly in fields such as cybersecurity.
He said: “In addition to our defense activity, we will reinforce our cybersecurity field.”
The region, particularly the Kingdom, has placed significant importance and invested greatly in defense and security, according to Caine. This has led the company to aim to double its current workforce in the Kingdom in the coming years.
The CEO added: “So the idea is, we want to grow our existing presence here. We are already 300 people in the Kingdom … And if I look at the growth of our footprint here, it will probably double within the next few years, from 300 to 600.”
The company has maintained a presence in the Kingdom for 55 years, establishing partnerships with entities such as the Saudi Arabian Military Industries, Aramco, and the General Authority of Civil Aviation.
However, since the inception of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, the firm has aimed to align with the Vision’s goals, specifically the target of 50 percent localization of all military spending. This involves transferring its technology, know-how, and knowledge to ensure that its presence is sustainable.
“It all started with Vision 2030. We decided at the very beginning to stick with this vision. It was already part of the DNA of Thales, to localize transfer by transferring technology and know-how to the countries in which we want to have a sustainable presence,” Caine said.
As part of its efforts to stay relevant within the Kingdom’s localization agenda and ensure knowledge transfer, the company is training “several tens” of young Saudis in the field of air defense and radar technology.
The selected participants of the program spend several months in Europe with Thales to develop their domain knowledge before returning to the Kingdom to contribute to the nation’s future development.
“How do you design a radar? How do you design an air defense system? That’s what I call domain knowledge. For months, we have trained Saudi engineers. They are back now in Saudi, and they are applying their new knowledge for their forthcoming development for the country,” the CEO said.
The company has also established a joint venture with the Kingdom’s SAMI, which Caine deemed the “recipient for all technology and know-how” that they hope to transfer from Europe to Saudi Arabia, outlining it as “very promising”.
During their second year participating in the World Defense Show, the company aims to further solidify partnerships with entities like SAMI and Aramco, with future collaborations anticipated.