Belgian company CMI Defence and French company Thales have announced new agreements with Saudi Arabia, in response to a new Saudi program of investment in industry and infrastructure. The Saudi program is an attempt to diversify the country's economy. It was reported in Belgian media that CMI Defence will produce turrets and vehicles in Saudi Arabia, a decision which will allow the company to avoid strict export license controls on where the products are shipped to. CMI will own 49% of the new company, SAMI (the state-owned Saudi Arabian Military Industries company) will own 51%.
CMI (“Cockerill Maintenance & Ingénierie”) Defence is a Belgian company, building a wide range of artillery systems for light and medium armoured vehicles, as well as related services and training, including simulation systems, maintenance and repair, and upgrades.
CMI Defence is already involved in a huge and controversial arms deal between General Dynamics in Canada and Saudi Arabia. The Canadian prime minister originally described the equipment purchased as "jeeps", but it later transpired that the equipment to be shipped included heavy assault vehicles, armed with turrets built by CMI Defence.