THE BEST TIME TO PLANT A TREE

Jordan 2019 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

Already a leading producer of the country's most sophisticated weaponry, KADDB is pushing ahead into AI, cybersecurity, encryption, unmanned systems, 3D printing, and jamming devices.

BIOGRAPHY
Major General (Rtd) Mohammad Farghal became Director General of KADDB by royal decree in July 2018. Prior to this, he was with the Office of the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General to Yemen (OSESGY) as Principal Security Sector Reform Officer (D-1). Prior to that, he was the Director General of the Jordanian Armed Forces’ (JAF) Center for Strategic Studies. After a distinguished military career spanning nearly 40 years, General Farghal retired in 2013. His last assignment was as JAF’s Chief of Staff of Personnel for three years, where he was responsible for human capital development initiatives, manpower planning, human resources management, and women’s empowerment. Apart from leading eight directorates, he also headed a JAF team that led the effort to restructure the Yemeni Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces.

Can you give us a brief introduction to KADDB and its pioneering approach to innovation?

Once considered to be the home for global innovation and creativity, the Arab world currently lags behind most of the international community in terms of its contribution to scientific research and technical development. As disappointing as that may seem, recognizing the issue is the first step toward solving it. This is the context in which His Majesty King Abdullah II established the King Abdullah II Design and Development Bureau (KADDB) in 1999 with the intention of serving Jordan by reinforcing our independence and leading the region in innovation. KADDB designs and develops, tests and evaluates, and produces the most optimized defense solutions for Jordan's Armed Forces (JAF) and regional allies. We empower a qualified local workforce, employ cutting-edge technologies, and rely on international partnerships to improve our kingdom's global standing. Over the past 20 years, KADDB's scope has greatly expanded. We currently manufacture armored vehicles, command and control systems, communications and reconnaissance equipment, operator protective equipment, small arms, and ammunition of various calibers. Although KADDB's focus is mainly on the defense and security industry, we continue to contribute to the betterment of Jordan's economy and education, addressing a range of dimensions by providing a large number of job opportunities, partnering with numerous Jordanian companies, and funding various university research programs. We also boost tourism and hospitality through our very own biennial defense and security exhibition, which specializes in special operations forces and homeland security, Special Operations Forces Exhibition and Conference (SOFEX), unique for its kind in the region.

What is KADDB's strategy to make Jordan a regional defense industry hub?

KADDB will continue to take advantage of multiple factors, such as Jordan's strategic location, political stability, and highly qualified and skilled manpower to sustain and advance our military superiority and ensure our products and solutions are reliable and competitive. As it stands, KADDB has the only testing center in the region certified by the UK Accreditation Service (UKAS) that conducts a wide variety of tests. These include vehicle mobility, armoring, ballistic material testing, as well as weapon and ammunition testing. Our testing facility has a large number of international customers due to the successful reputation we have built over the years. KADDB also seeks to expand in a large number of new fields, including artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, encryption, unmanned systems, 3D printing, and jamming devices, for example. This expansion will provide further opportunities for global partnerships in order to make Jordan a regional defense industry hub and build a reputation as the partner of choice in the region.

Which markets are you looking at specifically for KADDB?

When KADDB was inaugurated, it sought to establish itself as a regional niche in the MENA region, which continues to be its main goal. Primarily, we pursue partnerships and ventures of mutual benefit, as it is crucial to create added value for Jordan and KADDB, whether via transfer of technology or commercial contractual relations. We seek win-win partnerships from across the world, specifically the East Asia and Africa. Due to the rapid growth and development of the African market, this has become our main interest, as there are diverse opportunities to promote partnerships, especially in the defense and security industry. ✖