Saudi Arabia Now Largest Defense Importer & Largest Market for the United States

According to IHS’ annual Global Defence Trade Report, in 2014 Saudi Arabia became the largest worldwide importer of defense equipment as well as the largest defense market for the United States. Saudi Arabia replaced India as the largest defense importer in 2014 after being the second largest defense importer in 2013. Saudi Arabia’s defense imports increased by 54% from 2013 to 2014.

According to the same report, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was the world’s fourth largest defense importer in 2014 and third largest in 2013. Combined, Saudi Arabia and the UAE imported $8.6 billion in defense systems in 2014, which is more than the imports of all of Western Europe combined.

World’s Largest Defense Importers, 2014 & 2013

Top Worldwide Defense Importers, 2013 and 2014

The U.S. was the largest beneficiary of the increases in the Middle Eastern market, with defense systems exports to the region growing from $6 billion in 2013 to $8.4 billion in 2014. Other leading defense exporters to the Middle East in 2014 were the United Kingdom ($1.9 billion), Russian Federation ($1.5 billion), France, ($1.3 billion), and Germany ($1 billion).

According to data on international arms transfers published by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) on March 16, 2015, U.S. exports of major weapons increased by 23% between 2005-2009 and 2010-2014, and account for approximately a third of international arms exports. The Middle East was the recipient of 32% of U.S. weapons exports and the U.S. accounted for 47% of total arms supplies to the Middle East from 2010-2014.

According to SIPRI, Saudi Arabia increased the volume of its arms imports by 417% between 2005-2009 and 2010-2014. Imports of arms to the Gulf Cooperation Council countries – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE – accounted for 54% of imports to the Middle East from 2010-2014.