In its annual Global Defence Trade Report released on March 8, 2015, Information Handling Services (IHS, Inc.), a leading source of critical information about the industry, placed Saudi Arabia at the top of its list of arms importers for 2014.
The report examines trends in the global defense market across 65 countries and is based on 40,000 arms deals and deliveries from IHS’s database of Aerospace, Defense, and Security’s Market Forecasts. According to the report, Saudi Arabia increased its arms imports by 54 percent from 2013. The total amount spent by the Kingdom on its defense deals amounted to US$6.4 bn.
Ben Moore, senior defense analyst at IHS, was quoted in Business Insider as saying that “growth in Saudi Arabia has been dramatic and, based on previous orders, these numbers are not going to slow down.”
Saudi defense imports are expected to grow by another 52 percent to US$9.8 bn in 2015. The IHS report predicts that in 2015 one out of every US$7 spent by arms importers will come from the Kingdom.
The report also reveals that Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s combined defense imports superseded all of Western Europe.
Regional instability is a major contributor to the arms race in the Middle East. With ISIS posing a major threat to the security of neighboring countries, the IHS report forecasts the region will become the biggest regional defense market with “US$110 bn in opportunities in the coming decade.”
According to David Cortright, Director of Policy Studies at the University of Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, nuclear negotiations with Iran also create new opportunities for economic development that are fueling Saudi Arabia’s defense spending.
The United States continues to be the biggest beneficiary of the booming Middle Eastern defense market, with US$8.4 bn worth of exports in 2014, compared to US$6 bn in 2013. The United Kingdom comes in second with US$1.9 bn, followed by Russia with US$1.5 bn, and France and Germany with US$1.3 and US$1 bn, respectively.