World Defense Show Showcases Growth and Global Collaboration at Eurosatory: Interview with Andrew Pearcey, WDS CEO

At Eurosatory, World Defense Show proudly announced its ongoing success and significant milestones, underscoring its role as a premier global platform for defense industry collaboration. In an exclusive interview with Andrew Pearcey, WDS CEO, key insights were shared that highlighted the remarkable growth and achievements of the event.

Andrew Pearcey, WDS CEO

Q: What can you tell us about WDS’s participation at Eurosatory?

 A: World Defense Show is on an upwards trajectory and continuously looking for bigger and better opportunities to help deliver a platform for global collaboration in defense.  At Eurosatory, WDS is part of the Saudi pavilion, where we are announcing that 50 per cent of exhibitor space is sold out 20 months ahead of the third edition. This stands as testament to the show’s strong relationship with prime exhibitors and its proven success.

We are also using this opportunity to highlight the French participation which grew by 40% in the second edition. We welcomed 43 French companies, and many other European companies, such as Airbus, Leonardo, BAE Systems, Fincantieri, Navantia and Rolls-Royce.

Most importantly, our participation at Eurosatory is about promoting the show for 2026  and reinforcing our position as a must attend international defense show for the defense industry.

Q: What factors contributed to the success of WDS2024?

A: From my perspective there were four key elements that made the 2024 show a huge success:

1) We built on the foundations of a successful first edition delivered during a very challenging period where we exceeded expectations of the industry and provided them a unique platform to do business.

2) We positioned WDS as a global showcase of defense innovation and technology. Our unique location and capabilities, enable us to demonstrate, in both our live and static displays, cutting-edge equipment and assets, creating an exceptional and immersive experience for all.

3) Global appeal of the show is undeniable, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a huge draw for the industry either from a selling or buying point of view.  The proof of this is in the pudding with us welcoming 773 exhibitors, 106,000 trade visitors and a huge number of delegations.

4) The WDS team.  I am lucky to have a fantastic team working at WDS.  It was their tenacity and talent that truly made the difference and ensured everything came together perfectly during the 5 days.

All of these factors helped make WDS 2024 a success, but we are not resting on our laurels, and we will be expecting 2026 to be even bigger and better than 2024. 

Q: What were the main goals for WDS 2024 and have they been met?

A: Our main goal was to offer a platform for the global defense industry to come together to forge the future of the industry in an atmosphere of collaboration and cooperation. We met this goal not just through the panels and presentations from industry, academic and governmental leaders, and the open discourse that followed, but also by enabling the discovery and support of new technological development through our future of defense hub. This dedicated space served as a collaborative platform that connected innovators with investors to foster investment opportunities.

We also wanted to cement our position as a premier and unmissable event in the defense industry calendar. This goal was clearly met, as evidenced by the increase in exhibitors, the participation of major global defense companies, and increased attendance. The show truly lived up to its name, “World Defense Show,” by attracting a vast international audience.

And our goal to be a catalyst for achieving the 50% localization of defense procurement, as defined in the Vision 2030, was also achieved, as evidenced by the number of MoUs, deals and agreements that were signed during the event. I have no doubt that discussions initiated during the show will continue to produce further results for the Kingdom and the defense industry over the next year.

Q: Can you share some specific examples of the positive feedback you’ve received from visitors and exhibitors?

A: The feedback from visitors and exhibitors has been overwhelmingly positive, and you can really see it in the growth of the event. For instance, compared to our first edition in 2022, World Defense Show 2024 saw a huge increase in size and global participation. We expanded the site by 25% and added a third hall that featured the new Defense Space Arena. Exhibitor space was completely sold out five months before the show, which shows just how much trust and excitement there is around the event.

Visitor numbers jumped from 65,000 in the first edition to 106,000 in the second edition, which is about a 63% increase. We also went from 600 exhibitors to 773, a 29% growth. And delegation participation really took off, doubling from 221 to 441. These numbers reflect the incredible feedback we’ve received about the quality of networking opportunities and the overall experience at the show.

On top of this we also received very positive feedback via our research survey. Both exhibitors and visitors were extremely positive about their overall experience at the show, scoring it well above the benchmarks of other events.

Q: Can you talk about the key highlights of the air and land displays this year?

A: Our static and live display teams outdid themselves this year, bringing together an incredible lineup of air, land, and sea assets. One of the standout features of World Defense Show is the sheer number of exhibits and the vast open spaces we have for air and land demonstrations.

The air assets include established mission aircraft, fighter jets, helicopters, UAVs and cutting edge electric aircraft, while armoured vehicles, tanks, and rocket launchers were shown on the land side.

Our airfield, featuring a 2,700m runway, four taxiways, and extensive parking pads, shows just how equipped we are to display cutting-edge defense technology in a way that no other show can.

Our land display area was a massive hit as well. Crowds gathered to watch the vehicles maneuver across the dunes and through the manmade lake, which added an exciting dimension to the show.

The central static display was also a major attraction, and individual stands throughout the show featured equipment displays from tiny satellites to vast land vehicles.

Q: How is the Saudi market expanding through this show, and what opportunities does this create for global collaboration?

A: The 2024 edition of World Defense Show has provided international exhibitors with access to Saudi Arabia’s ever-growing defense and security market. With extensive international participation and substantial deals announced, the show has facilitated invaluable networking, knowledge-sharing, and commercial relationship-building helping establish it as the premier defense and security show in the region.

World Defense Show 2024 has effectively connected industry leaders and innovators from across the globe, showcasing the nation’s growing influence and capabilities towards achieving the Vision 2030 objectives, particularly in localizing more than 50% of defense expenditure and bolstering the Saudi defense and security industry.

Q: What are your goals for World Defense Show 2026, particularly in terms of exhibitor and international visitor numbers?

A: We aim to enhance the show’s status as a premier event in the defense industry calendar. With 50% of the floor space for WDS 2026 already sold, there is strong interest and confidence in the event. For the 2026 edition, plans include expanding offerings with more interactive exhibits, enhanced networking opportunities, and new features to support innovation in the defense sector. The goal is to continuously improve and provide even greater value to exhibitors and attendees.

Q: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced in organizing this event, and what did you learn from them?

A: The biggest challenges for a show like the World Defense Show are operational in nature. Organizing such a large and complex event requires extensive planning, collaboration, and teamwork. This show is a triumph for the Kingdom, showcasing the immense potential of what can be achieved. As the largest trade event in the Kingdom, it stands as a testament to our capabilities.

What’s truly gratifying is that our hard work has resulted in a show that not only met but exceeded our objectives, firmly positioning WDS as a global leader in the defense industry.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.