Saudi Arabia and Turkiye Forge New Defense Partnerships

Saudi Arabia and Turkiye Forge New Defense Partnerships

Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) has announced three key memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with Turkish defense firms. These agreements aim to bolster the localization of defense industries in Saudi Arabia, marking a new chapter in Middle Eastern defense cooperation.

Key Partnerships

  1. SAMI-Baykar Collaboration
    • Focus on establishing manufacturing capabilities for Baykar’s renowned unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in Saudi Arabia.
    • Builds upon last year’s major drone purchase agreement, the largest defense contract in Turkey’s history.
  2. SAMI-Aselsan Agreement
    • Explores opportunities in developing defense electronics technologies within the kingdom.
  3. SAMI-Fergani Space MoU
    • Aims to develop emerging technologies serving the global space sector in Saudi Arabia.

These partnerships align with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, which seeks to diversify the economy and reduce dependence on oil. They also reflect Turkey’s growing influence in the global defense market, particularly through Baykar’s combat-proven drones.

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Bilateral Relations

The defense collaborations signify a warming of Saudi-Turkish relations following a period of tension. Key developments include:

  • Reciprocal high-level visits by President Erdoğan and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman since 2022.
  • Bilateral trade reaching $6.8 billion in 2022, with Turkish exports to Saudi Arabia surging by 150%.
  • Ambitious goals to increase trade to $10 billion in the medium term and $30 billion long-term.

Strategic Implications

  1. Enhances Saudi Arabia’s domestic defense capabilities.
  2. Provides Turkey with a significant foothold in the Gulf defense market.
  3. Contributes to regional security dynamics and potential power shifts.

As Saudi Arabia prepares to host major global events like the 2030 World Expo and the 2034 FIFA World Cup, these defense partnerships could play a crucial role in the kingdom’s security infrastructure and technological advancement.

This collaboration marks a new era in Saudi-Turkish relations, potentially reshaping the Middle Eastern defense landscape and fostering deeper economic ties between the two regional powers.

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