July 6, 2009:
Saudi Arabia is spending $2.5 billion to construct an electronic surveillance system along 7,000 kilometers of coastline and land borders. EADS, a European firm, won the contract. EADS already built and operates a similar system along Saudi Arabia's Iraq border. The success of that system probably helped EADS win the new contract.
The security system (the Saudi Border Guard Development Program, or SBGDP) along the 900 kilometer Iraqi border is more elaborate. It consists of a double fence, 135 electronically controlled gates, day/night cameras, movement detection sensors on the fence, underground sensors, and barbed wire between the two fences. SBGDP is meant to stop anyone from sneaking into the kingdom from Iraq. The national system does that as well, but only if the local board guard base can catch whoever made one of the sensors go off. This Iraqi border fence is not yet complete. The new national project will not be complete until 2014-15.
The new contract is actually an extension of the SBGDP, and may result in barriers along the 2,000 kilometers long Yemen border similar to those found along the Iraqi frontier. The 22,000 man Saudi border patrol currently makes thousands of arrests each year along the Yemen border, and many of those caught were smuggling weapons.
Israel actually has the most success designing, building and using these barrier systems. But for political reasons, the Saudis had to settle for second best.