Saudi Arabia has surpassed India to become the biggest weapons importer in the world for 2014, a year when defense trade globally increased for the sixth consecutive year to $64.4 billion setting a new record, said HIS a research company on Sunday.
The growth in importing defense weapons was due the increasing demand from the emerging economies for more military aircraft and the rising tensions in the Asia Pacific and Middle East, said IHS a global economic information and market provider.
The U.S. remained the top exporter of defense products for 2014 ahead of Russia, Britain, Germany and France. The top 5 ranking remained the same as in 2013, said the research and data company.
The growth in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is dramatic and based upon orders previously the numbers are not slowing down.
Imports by Saudi increased 54% from 2013 to 2014, and based upon planned deliveries it imports will increase 52% to over $9.8 billion in 2015, said the research company. Saudi Arabia will spend one dollar out of every seven spent in 2015 in defense imports.
The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are members of the coalition led by the U.S. involved in making air strikes against the group of Islamic State militants. These militants have taken a vow to topple the governments in the region of countries who are Western-allied in the Middle East.
Five of the 10 top countries importing defense products are from the Middle East, which has made the Middle East the largest regional market and over the upcoming decade, one analyst believes there are opportunities that are worth over $110 billion for imports of defense products.
The world’s top five importers during 2014 of defense weapons are Saudi Arabia, India, followed by China, the UAE and Taiwan. Saudi Arabia took first place from India, while China moved from fifth to third.
Together the UAE and Saudi Arabia imported more than $8.6 billion in 2014 of defense systems, more than all the Western Europe imports combined.
The largest beneficiary of the market in the Middle East is the U.S. with more than $8.4 billion worth of exports sent to the Middle East during 2014 following $6 billion during 2013.