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Saudi agrees joint venture with French firm to boost navy

AFP , Sunday 17 Feb 2019
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Saudi Arabia's state arms producer and a French government-majority firm signed an agreement Sunday on a joint venture to boost the kingdom's navy.

The memorandum of understanding between Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) and France's Naval Group is aimed at providing the oil-rich Gulf state's navy with "state-of-the-art systems", a statement said.

"Through design, construction, and maintenance activities, the joint venture will contribute significantly to further enhancing the capabilities and readiness of our Royal Saudi Naval Forces," SAMI boss Andreas Schwer said.

A spokeswoman for Naval Group -- which is owned by the French state and French multinational giant Thales -- refused to give any more details.

France, one of the world's biggest arms exporters, has sold equipment to Riyadh -- notably Caesar artillery guns and ammunition, sniper rifles and armoured vehicles.

OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia has been one of the world's top arms buyers for the past several years.

But in 2017, the kingdom's Public Investment Fund set up SAMI to manufacture arms locally with the fund expecting it to become one of the world's top 25 defence companies by 2030.

* This story was edited by Ahram Online.

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