The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are expected to launch discussions on submarine acquisitions “in the near future,” according to an executive with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri.

Achille Fulfaro, Middle East naval executive for Fincantieri and general manager of Etihad Ship Building, said the two regional military powers are expected to examine small to medium submarines.

“One of the critical issues of the region is the anti-submarine issue and this is the reason why we delivered to the UAE Navy a highly developed anti-submarine warfare vessel last year,” Fulfaro said. “We assume that countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, in the near future, will start with deep discussions regarding their submarine fleet.”