Saudi Arabia is committed to the development of a major aerospace industry in the Kingdom and plans to create a facility at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, where aircraft such as the Airbus 380 and Boeing 777 could also be built, said a senior Saudi official.
Saudi Arabia’s bid to enhance its position among innovation supporting states and employing it as one of the pillars of development is gathering momentum, with several major collaborative ventures helping to drive growth across a broad range of knowledge-led industries, said Prince Turki bin Saud bin Mohammed Al Saud (photo), President of King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), told Oxford Business Group’s online broadcasting service, Global Platform.
“We are targeting collaborations with the world’s leading research organizations which will enable us to move from innovation to commercialization,” he said.
Prince Turki highlighted some of the partnerships that are already delivering results and that will actually result in enhancing national economy, notably Saudi Arabia’s collaboration with the Ukrainian aircraft manufacturing and services company, Antonov.
The Kingdom has teamed up with Antonov to build the AN-132, a multipurpose transport aircraft, which began test flights in December. The technology for the aircraft is jointly owned by Saudi Arabia and Antonov, Prince Turki said, with manufacturing to be undertaken in the kingdom.
“This aircraft, which is used for cargo and can take up to 90 passengers, will be soon flown in Saudi Arabia,” he told Global Platform.
Prince Turki added that strategic partnerships with both academic institutions and private industry players were pivotal in the Kingdom’s plans to take Research and Development (R&D) to the next level of manufacturing and production.
Prince Turki also noted the diverse range of R&D under way in the Kingdom, which extends from genomics and renewable energy to value-added manufacturing and nanotechnology. The decision to galvanize domestic production, he said, would help Saudi Arabia move towards its target of increasing local content by at least 70% by 2030.
The Prince also pointed out that the country’s innovation drive had allowed Saudi Arabia to sharpen its focus on harnessing human resource wealth, in line with the long-term economic development plan for the country, Vision 2030.
“Saudi Arabia’s economic development will depend on innovation, which requires a lot of R&D. The Kingdom is now concentrating on the real revered wealth of the country, and that’s its people, in addition to other resources that Allah granted it,” he said.