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World Defense Show: Leading the Charge in Defense Innovation – An Exclusive Interview with Andrew Percey

Diana Allam

At Eurosatory 2024, Security and Defense Arabia had the privilege of sitting down with Andrew Percey, Chief Executive Officer, World Defense Show at KSA. In this insightful interview, Percey discusses the key factors behind WDS’s remarkable growth, the evolving demands from exhibitors and attendees, and the milestones achieved in the 2024 edition. He also shares exciting plans for the future, shedding light on how WDS continues to position itself as a premier platform for defense innovation and collaboration globally.

1. World Defense Show has gained significant attention since its inception. Could you share some of the key factors that have contributed to its success and growth over the years?

World Defense Show has achieved remarkable success and growth since its inception due to several key factors. Firstly, we built on the strong foundation of our first edition, which was delivered during a challenging period and exceeded industry expectations, providing a unique platform for businesses. We positioned WDS as a global showcase of defense innovation and technology, leveraging our unique location to offer both live and static displays of cutting-edge equipment, creating an exceptional and immersive experience for all attendees. The global appeal of the show is undeniable, with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia being a significant draw for the defense industry.

Additionally, I am privileged to work with an outstanding team at WDS; their dedication and skill were key to the event’s success. These elements have positioned WDS as a leading global defense platform, with even greater expectations for the 2026 edition.

2. How has the demand from exhibitors and attendees evolved for the 2024 edition of the World Defense Show? Are there any emerging trends or sectors within the defense industry that you’ve noticed gaining prominence?

I mean in terms of the growth of the show, we see in countries. We see countries growing, country participation, which tends to mirror the market. So our Chinese pavilion grew a lot and Turkish pavilion grew a lot. So the French pavilion grew 40% in 2024 we have 40 exhibitors, and that’s OK as well.

For the 2024 edition, we saw an incredible surge in demand from exhibitors and attendees, selling out months in advance. It’s truly exciting to witness the growing focus on AI and technological advancements in defense equipment. Prime exhibitors are not only showcasing cutting-edge technology but are also investing heavily in Saudi manufacturing, reflecting the trust and recognition WDS has earned globally.

What really stood out to me were the dynamic displays. Our static and live display teams brought together an impressive lineup of air, land, and sea assets. The air demonstrations were particularly captivating, featuring everything from fighter jets to cutting-edge electric aircraft. On the ground, the displays of armored vehicles, tanks, and rocket launchers were equally impressive, adding a unique and immersive dimension to the event. This year’s show felt like a true celebration of innovation and collaboration in the defense industry.

3. What were some of the most significant milestones achieved in the 2024 edition of the World Defense Show? How have these milestones impacted the overall reputation and reach of the event?

In 2024, WDS achieved several major milestones that really underscore our progress. We hosted 773 exhibitors and welcomed over 106,000 trade visitors from 116 countries. The number of delegations doubled to 441, marking our highest participation yet. These milestones have significantly boosted WDS’s reputation and impact in the international defense community. It means a lot to see WDS being recognized as a premier platform for defense cooperation and innovation, and it truly feels like we’re shaping the future of the industry together.

4. Based on feedback from exhibitors and attendees, what were some of the key improvements or changes implemented for the 2024 show? How have these enhancements influenced the experience for participants?

Based on feedback, we implemented several key improvements for the 2024 show. We expanded the exhibition site by 25% and introduced a third hall featuring the new Defense Space Arena. These enhancements allowed for more comprehensive displays and better accommodation of our growing number of exhibitors and attendees. 

5. Looking ahead to the 2026 edition of the World Defense Show, what are some of the major goals and milestones you’ve set? How do you plan to build on the success of previous years to further elevate the event?

For the 2026 edition, the demand has been phenomenal. Just four months after the second edition of the show closed, to global industry approbation, we have already sold 50 percent of the floorspace for the third edition. Many of the industry’s leading multi-domain businesses booked their stands for 2026 during the 2024 event.

Our goals include expanding the show’s interactive exhibits and enhancing networking opportunities to foster even greater collaboration and innovation. We aim to further cement WDS’s status as a premier global defense event by building on the success of previous editions. This includes leveraging our strong relationships with international exhibitors and partners, continuing to align with Vision 2030’s localization goals, and introducing new features that support technological advancements in the defense sector. Our commitment is to provide unparalleled value to all participants, ensuring WDS remains at the forefront of the global defense industry.

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