► International defense heads and industry influencers lead exciting speaker list at second edition of World Defense Show

Riyadh, KSA, 04 January 2024:As the countdown begins to its second edition in February, World Defense Show, under the esteemed patronage of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, has revealed some of the industry titans and senior government figures who will address the show’s visitors and exhibitors over four days. WDS 2024, which will be held between 4-8 Feb 2024, in Riyadh, KSA, will host the exclusive Future Defense Leadership Forum on Preview Day, followed by four days of exciting interactive industry discussion and demonstration in the main conference room and across dedicated content theatres, in three of the exhibition halls.

The Future Defense Leadership Forum at the World Defense Show 2024 will commence with an address by HE Ahmad Abdulaziz Al-Ohali, Governor of the General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI). This exclusive event, attended by high-level government and private sector delegates from the global defense industry, is set to delve into national policy, technology, and innovation, offering insights into both Saudi and global perspectives on defense and security challenges over the next decade. The forum will feature a series of compelling keynote addresses, including ‘Enhancing KSA’s Investment Ecosystem’ by HE. Khalid Al Falih, Minister of Investment, and a discussion on ‘Defense/Force Readiness by HE. General Fayyadh Al Ruwaili, Chief of the General Staff of the Saudi Arabian Armed Forces. Additionally, HE. Ahmed Al Khateeb, Chairman of SAMI, will address ‘Security and Stability in the New Saudi Era,’ underscoring the importance of innovation and adaptation in defense technology.

The forum will also host pivotal panel discussions, ‘The People Challenge: Attracting, Upskilling and Retaining the Right Talent for the Defense sector’ will bring together HE. Prof. Haluk GÖRGÜN, President of the Defence Industry Agency (SSB), Turkey; Eng. Walid Abukhaled, CEO of SAMI; Sulaiman Albabtain, CEO & Chairman of SOFON Industries; and Éric Béranger, CEO of MBDA. Another significant panel, ‘Innovating at the Speed of Relevance: Managing the Defense Technology Challenge,’ will feature HE. Dr. Faleh AlSulaiman, Governor of GADD; Dr Charles Woodburn, CEO of BAE Systems; Stephanie C. Hill, President of Rotary & Mission Systems at Lockheed Martin; and Pierre Éric Pommellet, Chairman and CEO of Naval Group.

Innovation is a strong theme of the Day 2 program which hosts key industry figures, such as, – Rob Merriweather Technology Director, BAE Systems and Chris Brown, Vice President Strategy & Global Business Development, General Dynamics, leading a panel on achieving innovation goals across the industry, while Tim Cahill, President, Missiles and Fire Control, Lockheed Martin will discuss exploiting innovation across the battlespace. General (Retd) Tom Middendorp, Chairman, International Military Council on Climate and Security, Former Chief of Defense of The Netherlands will deliver a keynote on environmental sustainability in the defense industry.  Nichola Bates, Managing Partner at Aerospace Xelerated and Head of Global Accelerators and Innovation Programs, Boeing will provide insight on Defense Innovation Units to foster collaboration with startups.

Technology development steps into the spotlight on Day 3, with Major Gen (Rtd) Adam Findlay, Former Commander Special Operations addressing civilian-military technology development and cooperation and Sir Stu Atha, Director of Training Strategy, BAE Systems providing insight on the future of human machine interface and Stephanie Hill, President, Rotary and Mission Systems, Lockheed Martin discussing transforming aerospace and defense for the 21st Century.

Building on the huge success of the program in 2022, the International Women in Defense program returns, spearheaded by HRH Ambassador Reema, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United States. The event will also feature Heidi Grant, Vice President of Defense Global Growth & Engagement at Boeing Defense, Space & Security (BDS)and who will be joined by national diversity champions and industry figureheads including Maj. Gen. Adel Al-Balawi, Head of Armed Forces Education and Training Authority, KSA.

On Day 5, the Future Talent program will recognize the importance of nurturing and developing the next generation of defense professionals. The session will be opened with a keynote address by HE Yousef bin Abdullah Al-Benyan, Minister of Education, setting the stage for insightful discussions on the future of human capital in defense. Dr. Alex Walmsley, defense analyst and RUSI Associate Fellow, will moderate a high-level panel on ‘The Human Capital Growth Model for Defense.’ Additionally, the program will feature a presentation on ‘The People Challenge: An Industrial Perspective’ by Jason Monahan, VP & General Manager, General Dynamics, offering valuable insights into workforce development from an industry standpoint.

Andrew Pearcey, CEO World Defense Show, said: “We are delighted to confirm an exciting program of industry-leading international and regional speakers, who will address visitors and exhibitors in people, technology and capability-focused discussions.

“World Defense Show is not just an exhibition of ground breaking technology, the event offers a chance for the leaders in the field of defense to convene for the shared purpose of addressing the challenges facing the industry and the world. WDS’s role as an enabler of global collaboration will extend beyond the event itself, providing a platform for countries to engage in international cooperation,” he added.

The excitement around the theatres continues to build, with further senior management and mentors from industry primes confirming daily.

Photo courtesy World Defense Show