Oil-rich Saudi Arabia has topped India to become the largest arms importer in the world over the last year, a report says.
The kingdom’s military spending jumped 54 percent to USD 6.5 billion in 2014, while India imported USD 5.8 billion worth of weapons, said a Sunday report by IHS Inc, a leading analyst of the global arms trade.
“Growth in Saudi Arabia has been dramatic and, based on previous orders, these numbers are not going to slow down,” said Ben Moores, the report’s author, adding, “You’re seeing political fractures across the region, and at the same time you’ve got oil, which allows countries to arm themselves.”
Saudi Imports will rise 52 percent to USD 9.8 billion in the current year, which means one out of every seven dollars spent on arms imports worldwide will be spent by Saudi Arabia.
Moores also stated that five out of the ten leading weapons importers are from the Middle East, a region which is experiencing unprecedented instability and tension.
“The Middle East is the biggest regional market and there are USD 110 billion in opportunities in coming decade,” he noted.
The United States has been the biggest beneficiary of the rising Middle Eastern market, with USD 8.4 billion of arms exports to the region last year, up from USD 6 billion in 2013.
Worldwide, the US arms exports surged 19 percent to USD 23.7 billion, accounting for one-third of all weapons exports.
Russia ranked second with USD 10 billion worth of military exports and France came third.
On a global scale, trade in military hardware increased for a sixth consecutive year in 2014, pushing worldwide imports to USD 64.4 billion from USD 56 billion.