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WDS 2024: the emerging platform for the global defence industry

29th September 2023 - 14:00 GMT | by Industry Spotlight

Focusing on future technology and innovation, World Defense Show returns, expanded in floorspace, duration and participation.

This article is brought to you by World Defense Show

Under the theme Equipped for Tomorrow, World Defense Show will return to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in February 2024 for its second edition. The inaugural show in March 2022 launched just as pandemic restrictions were lifting, and travel for many was still challenging, and yet the show garnered 65,000 visits from attendees from 85 countries and showcased 600 exhibitors from 42 countries. More than SAR29.6 billion [US$7.89 billion] of signed deals were announced over the four days.

Both the world and the industry have seen strong recovery in the subsequent 18 months, and demand, due to the success of this first edition, has seen the show return next year in an expanded format. The physical footprint of the bespoke exhibition floorspace has grown by 25%, to include a soon to be constructed third hall, and the external demonstration area has been increased for the dynamic daily land displays.

The event has also extended its duration by one day, to include an additional Preview Day. The Preview Day, taking place alongside the Future Defense Leadership Forum, will be open only to the VIPs and high-level international delegations taking part in the forum, alongside exhibitors and the media.

World Defense Show, founded by GAMI, is a key vehicle for the government’s planned localisation of 50% of defense expenditure, as part of the country’s Vision 2030 plan. To facilitate the forging of further international partnerships across the supply chain, the second edition in 2024 will see the return of the highly successful ‘Meet the KSA Government’ programme, which shares the latest developments on the Kingdom’s business guidelines, investment requirements and partnership processes to operate in line with the national defence industry’s overall objectives. The programme builds on the success of WDS 2022, where new public/private enterprises were established with industry players from across the supply chain.

The high-level partnership opportunities are not limited to the Kingdom’s governmental representation, as the show offers a range of show features designed for industry connection and networking. The Delegations Program will match high-ranking officials from a planned 115 delegations representing 50 countries to exhibitors looking to expand into their specific markets.

The Meet the Buyer programme in the first edition was a major force in establishing the World Defense Show as the optimal defence and security networking environment and cooperation platform, with over 1,100 one-on-one meetings facilitated over two days. For the second edition, this programme has been expanded and renamed. The B2B Connect programme will now run over three days, allowing a greater number of meetings with visitors and exhibitors from primes to start ups – connecting every tier of the supply chain.

New for WDS 2024 is the Space Arena, situated in the newly constructed Hall 3. This is a dedicated area showcasing the latest space capabilities and technologies in this rapidly evolving domain. It will highlight Saudi Arabia’s strategic ambitions in space and identify future space opportunities for both the Kingdom and its international partners.

Content theatres running over the four days will convene national and international defence and security policymakers, global defence industry think-tanks, technology companies, and research and academic institutions to explore trends defining the future of defence. Panels and expert speakers will review economic and workforce implications and open up high level discussion of the topics that are influencing and challenging the industry, including sustainability, women in defence and the development of a pipeline of young talent.

According to the organization, demand for exhibitor space at WDS2024 has been phenomenal, with the show over 98% sold by August, six months before opening. And the response has been truly international, 66 countries will be represented on the show floor, with new country pavilions debuting and expanded space booked by leading global players including China, USA, France, Czech Republic, Italy, South Korea and Spain. A huge surge in interest from Turkish companies has made Turkey the third largest country zone in current bookings on its first WDS.

This future-focused second edition of World Defense Show seems set to provide a global perspective.

Industry Spotlight


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