Riyadh calls up contractors for border security

26 May 2006

Riyadh has invited defence contractors from nine countries to bid for an estimated $5,333 million (SR 20,000 million) contract that will form the core of its multi-billion mega project to improve border security in the kingdom.

Companies from the US, the UK, France, China, Russia, Italy, Germany, South Africa and Pakistan have been invited by the Interior Ministry to attend a three-day project conference in Riyadh on 5 June, at which details of the scheme will be presented. The conference will be followed by an 18-day site survey during which delegates will visit key areas on the country's border.

The contract, known as the Miksa (Ministry of the Interior, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) border security contract, covers the installation, operation and maintenance of a state-of-the-art radar-based system for detecting both land and sea incursions along the kingdom's 6,500-kilometre border. It is expected to run for 12 years and involves the construction of 225 radar installations, as well as the supply of telecommunications equipment and aircraft (MEED 12:5:06).

Defence contractors including the UK's BAE Systems, the European Aeronautic Defence & Space Company (EADS), Italy's Finmeccanica, France's Thales and the US' Raytheon Corporation are all understood to be interested in the deal after Riyadh recently ended talks with Thales in April after 12 years of exclusive negotiations.

Work on the project is to be split into a number of specialist packages, one of which will cover a Defence & Aviation Ministry contract to build a security fence along the kingdom's 900-kilometre border with Iraq. Selected local construction firms have been given until 3 June to submit proposals for the Iraq fence package (MEED 19:5:06). Other packages are expected to cover: programme management; Yemen border security; armament, including radar bases; helicopters and heliports; land vehicles and vehicle bases; and maintenance.

'Riyadh traditionally likes to share out its defence contracts, so I expected that we will see several big awards going to different countries,' says a diplomat. It is also significant that Riyadh has invited all members of the UN Security Council, including China and Russia, to participate in the project. www.meed.com/defence

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