September 8, 2019 / 2:49 PM / 12 days ago

Saudi Arabia launches military industrial licensing program

FILE PHOTO: Members of Saudi security forces take part in a military parade in preparation for the annual Haj pilgrimage in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia August 4, 2019. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

DUBAI (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia said on Sunday it had begun accepting license applications for firms in the military industrial sector, a major target under plans to diversify the kingdom’s economy away from oil exports.

The General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI) will license companies to manufacture firearms, ammunition, military explosives, military equipment, individual military equipment, and military electronics, state news agency SPA reported.

GAMI Governor Ahmed al-Ohali said the move would open the door for foreign and local investment in the sector.

Investment is needed to meet reforms announced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who wants Riyadh to produce or assemble half its defense equipment locally in order to create 40,000 jobs for Saudis by 2030.

Saudi Arabia is among the top five defense spenders in the world.

Reporting by Tuqa Khalid; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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