Defence Development, Green Transition & Collaboration.
By Piercamillo Falasca & Daniela Palumbo
Leonardo Signs MoU with Saudi Arabia for Defence and Aerospace Sector Development
By Piercamillo Falasca
The Ministry of Investment and the General Authority for Military Industries of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Italian firm, Leonardo, with the intention to discuss, develop, and evaluate a range of investment and collaboration opportunities in the defence and aerospace sectors. The announcement was made during an official ceremony held at the World Defence Show.
Under the MoU, multiple areas of collaboration will be explored, including the space industry, airframe Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO), localisation of electronic warfare systems and radars, and assembly of helicopters. This MoU also focuses on specialised areas of collaboration in both Combat Air and Cross-Domain Integration fields, leveraging Leonardo’s involvement in next-generation technology initiatives and enabling demonstration projects. These areas could encompass unmanned systems, integrated sensors, digital technologies, industrialisation processes, and human capital development. Additionally, the parties will explore opportunities for the national supply chain in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its role for Leonardo in the region as well as the global value chain.
Stefano Pontecorvo, Chairman of Leonardo, stated that ‘This signing represents an important opportunity to consolidate defense cooperation and strengthen a joint vision for future Combat Air operations. But it also represents a platform through which to jointly develop new technologies, leveraging the experience and capabilities of the parties.’ Similarly, Lorenzo Mariani, Leonardo’s Co-General Manager, remarked that ‘We’re extremely pleased to announce this MoU with MISA and GAMI. It allows us to thoroughly evaluate new collaboration opportunities in a wide range of fields, leveraging over 50 years of Leonardo’s presence and strong cooperation in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We’re committed to working together to explore how we can strengthen our partnership with the Kingdom through high-tech solutions and localised R&D, industrial, and service capabilities.’
For decades, Leonardo has supplied platforms, systems, technologies, and services to Saudi Arabia, including passenger transport, energy support and rescue rotorcraft, electronic systems and sensors, maritime defence, cyber capabilities, and has made a key contribution in the air defence domain—among others. This latest MoU represents Leonardo’s most recent step to reinforce its activities in Saudi Arabia, starting from developing a regional hub and creating new and multiple collaboration opportunities in various sectors, benefiting from its long-established presence.
By working with local technological partners, research establishments, and end-users, Leonardo aims to generate sustained development and production in the country. The MoU will significantly contribute to the objectives of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, aimed at implementing unprecedented reforms in the public sector, diversifying the economy, empowering citizens and businesses, and creating innovative green opportunities.
Bahrain’s Deep Leap Towards a Green Future
By Daniela Palumbo
The Kingdom of Bahrain is taking key steps towards a sustainable and environmentally sensitive future by investing heavily in climate-friendly technologies. Bahrain is traditionally known for its hydrocarbon-based economy but is now embracing its own green revolution that aims to diversify its energy portfolio and reduce its carbon dependence. Bahrain, like many countries around the world, understands the urgency to combat climate change and limit its related challenges. Bahrain’s government allocated significant funds to harness solar and wind power to increase the share of renewable energy sources into its total national energy mix. By embracing cutting-edge innovations, the country is creating a more resilient and efficient energy infrastructure that meets the needs of a rapidly changing world.
Bahrain’s transportation sector is also undergoing a green transformation and investments in electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure, along with incentives for EV adoption, are on the rise. This initiative aims to combat air pollution and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
All in all, Bahrain actively engages in international partnerships to improve its climate initiatives. These links not only change the level of expertise required in the general environmental field, but also contribute to Bahrain’s integration into the global green economy. The transition to climate-friendly technologies is, furthermore, viewed according to a new economic opportunities, and by diversifying energy sources and investing in new methods, Bahrain aims to position itself as a centre of green innovation in the wider Gulf region. This is expected to attract foreign investment, create new job opportunities and stimulate a sustainable economic growth.
Bahrain is sending a strong message to the international community on the importance of collective action to tackle climate change and its commitment to invest heavily in green technologies not only demonstrates its awareness of pressing environmental issues, but also its determination to be a responsible global citizen in the fight against climate change.
Strategic Collaboration: The UAE & Italy
By Daniela Palumbo
In 2023, the first Hub for the ‘Made in Italy’ in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was inaugurated and will serve as a bridge for Italian companies looking to expand into the Middle East, North Africa, South East Asia and the Emirati business ecosystem. The Hub is managed by Italiacamp, an organisation established in 2010 to promote the internationalisation of Italian companies and their know-how in markets. Initially, the aim was to  bolster Italy’s global image as an innovator. This mission has expanded and the Hub now aims to promote, on a large scale, many spotlighted sectors. Thanks to the new links created by this strategic bridge:
In the first six months of 2023, Italian exports to the UAE increased by 12.6 per cent and reached €3.2 billion. Italy is the second largest European supplier to the UAE and this is a very significant figure. Finally, we have to take into account that the Emirates have a GDP growth forecast of 4% for 2024.(1)
As noted, the UAE is a key gateway for Italian firms seeking to project into a wide assortment of new ,markets. Some practical cases highlight this well such as the example of Casinetto—a supplier of high-quality Italian foods. The company's mission is to offer its Emirati customers genuine and typical products in true Italian gastronomic tradition. Also, with Luxy, an Italian company specialised in high-end seats and chairs. Luxy recently agreed an important contract with the UAE, valued at €400.000 for a government project. This venture involves supplying public schools in Abu Dhabi, reinforcing the company’s foothold in the region.
The UAE’s strategic location and its economic dynamism aligns with Italy’s mission for market diversification and investment opportunities. As both nations navigate the complexities of global geopolitics, their economic ties testify to the strategic convergence of interests, fostering resilience and sustainability in an ever-changing geopolitical landscape.