What are the latest developments at Defense Enterprises?
We started building two factories in Al Kharj, which are both almost ready for production. The machines are from Europe and have been installed, so production can start in mid-2018. The setup follows the industrial model, and we are arranging everything with our main clients, the Ministry of Defense, and the Ministry of Interior. Currently, there is no Saudi manufacturer of these products. In addition, the government wants to localize production, and we are well positioned to take this step forward. Defense Enterprises emerged as a private initiative, and we have a technology transfer partnership with a company from the Netherlands. In the first three years of production, we will still develop our production facilities; however, after five years we will be able to cover the entire demand of the Saudi market.
Can you source all your material locally?
All the materials come from Saudi Arabia. The polyethylene is entirely manufactured here and is then exported to other companies to produce different products. Such production needs large investments, and fortunately we have Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC). The composite material we make here is the main material used on the market. It is sourced locally so we utilize our natural wealth.
Are you looking to export eventually?
Yes, we are open to the regional market and even have clients in Arab countries, such as Egypt and Libya. In the future, we can start exporting to Europe and the US. We have a contract with a lab in the US that specializes in testing and certifying body armor. Once we receive the certificate, we can sell our products anywhere. When we are ready, the profit margin for production here will allow us to be extremely competitive in the global market.