Interview: Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
With instability in neighbouring countries a growing concern, what is being done to ensure that the Kingdom’s borders are secure?
PRINCE MUTAIB BIN ABDULLAH BIN ABDULAZIZ AL SAUD: The Kingdom has one of the longest land and sea borders in the region, and is the only country that shares a border with all the GCC countries plus Iraq, Jordan and Yemen. It also shares a maritime boundary with many Gulf and African countries. The Ministry of Interior is making a great effort to strengthen the capabilities of the border guards, as these are the first line of defence against threats from outside the Kingdom, be it terrorism, illegal infiltration, or the smuggling of drugs and weapons. The responsibility of protecting the Kingdom’s borders is shared by all the state military and security institutions without exception; even citizens play a role. There is a high degree of continuous and permanent coordination between all military and security sectors to protect the Kingdom’s borders.
How can Saudi Arabia’s defence industry become more localised, and which value-added processes are best fit to be carried out within the Kingdom?
PRINCE MUTAIB: The existence of the Military Industries Corporation is an important step in addressing the Kingdom’s military needs locally. While Saudi Arabia’s military industrial capacity cannot compare to that of major industrialised countries specialising in this field, the supreme commander of all military sectors, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, is keen to develop these industries gradually. This can be accomplished through the transfer and localisation of certain selected technologies, along with developing the scientific and industrial qualifications of the country’s youth so that they will be directly involved in industries of the future. The aim is to build an integrated military industrial base to drive local development while also supplying the armed forces and other military sectors with ammunition and supporting industries. This will enhance domestic production and diversify the industrial base, helping the Kingdom to attain military self-sufficiency. To achieve industrial integration, we need to cooperate with the private sector, establishing common industries in order to develop military ones. This will allow us to expand our capabilities and thereby introduce new industries.
What role can private sector firms play in training and knowledge transfer for the National Guard?
PRINCE MUTAIB: The private sector plays an essential role in Saudi Arabia’s military industries. Most of the military facility projects have been implemented by the Saudi private sector, and the Ministry of the National Guard is always keen to engage private companies in development, modernisation and expansion projects. We see real opportunities for the private sector to continue providing support to military institutions. A new field has recently emerged in which we are seeing more cooperation between the private sector and the armed forces: military vocational training programmes have been designed to help the defence sectors embrace young job-seekers, providing them with the required skills in a host of professions through 13 technical majors, thus creating a skilled workforce that will serve both the military and private sectors. This cannot be accomplished without private sector participation.
How is the Saudi Arabian National Guard working to meet the growing challenges in cybersecurity?
PRINCE MUTAIB: Given the growing reliance on technology, security of information and communication have become important areas for military sectors. Technology dependence has made them targets, and therefore protecting not only the various ministries but the country as a whole has become a necessity that cannot be neglected. The emergence of cybersecurity threats has placed a greater premium on information security. The Ministry of the National Guard has sought to update its technology to protect its operating systems, software and databases, and we are confident that the measures we have taken will be effective in reducing the risks that these growing threats pose.
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