Saudi Arabia on July 18 agreed to buy Turkish drones in the biggest defence contract in Turkey’s history. Turkey President Tayyip Erdogan and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attended the signing ceremony between Turkish defence firm Baykar and the Saudi defence ministry.
Saudi Arabia will acquire the drones to enhance the readiness of the kingdom’s armed forces and strengthen its defense and manufacturing capabilities. In a tweet, Baykar CEO Haluk Bayraktar informed about signing a contract with the Saudi Arabian defence ministry for the Bayraktar Akinci (unmanned combat aerial vehicle) export and cooperation. Developing a local military industry has been part of an ambitious plan by Prince Mohammed to diversify the kingdom’s economy away from oil.
Investments and funding from the Gulf have helped ease stress on Turkey’s economy and its currency reserves since 2021, when the country launched diplomatic efforts to mend ties with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
In a statement, Baykar said that the agreement with Riyadh entails cooperation on technology transfer and joint production to advance the high technology development capability of the two countries. The two countries also inked several memorandums of understanding in sectors, including energy, real estate and direct investments.
In June, Turkish Vice President Cevdet Yilmaz and Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek travelled to the UAE to discuss economic cooperation opportunities with counterparts, and met President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.