Saudi Arabia’s defence expenditure rose by 5.7 percent to $87.2 billion in 2015, overtaking Russia to make it the world’s third-largest military spender.
According to new research from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), worldwide military spending grew by 1 percent last year, the first annual rise since 2010.
The US remains the top spender, with a budget of $596 billion, a drop of 2.4 percent on the year before. China was ranked in second place, with its spending rising by 7.4 percent to $215 billion.
The increase in Saudi spending came despite the effects of the lower oil price, which has seen other oil-based economies cut their military budgets. Venezuela spent 64 percent less on defence in 2015 compared to the year before, while Angola lowered its expenditure by 42 percent.
SIPRI said that Saudi spending, which has doubled between 2006 and 2015, was expected to decline during 2016. The kingdom is responsible for 5.2 percent of global military expenditure.
“Saudi Arabia overtook Russia to become the third-largest spender, mainly due to the fall in the value of the rouble. Despite additional spending by Saudi Arabia on military operations in Yemen, its annual rate of growth also slowed (5.7 percent) due to the sharp fall in the price of oil,” the organisation said in a press release.
“The fall in oil prices meant that Russia’s increase of 7.5 percent in 2015 was considerably lower than projected in its budget. Moreover, the 2016 budget shows a reduction in military spending. Nevertheless, Saudi Arabia and Russia registered the highest levels of military expenditure as a share of GDP since 1990 (13.7 percent and 5.4 percent, respectively).
SIPRI said that Oman had the world’s largest ‘military burden’ (military spending as a proportion of GDP) at just over 16 percent. Saudi Arabia’s military burden sits at just under 15 percent.
‘Military spending in 2015 presents contrasting trends’, said Dr Sam Perlo-Freeman, head of SIPRI’s military expenditure project. ‘On the one hand, spending trends reflect the escalating conflict and tension in many parts of the world; on the other hand, they show a clear break from the oil-fuelled surge in military spending of the past decade. This volatile economic and political situation creates an uncertain picture for the years to come.’
Source: Arabian Business