In 2014, Saudi Arabia overtook India to become the world's biggest weapons importer.
According to the annual defense trade report by IHS, a firm that provides analytical market information which supports decision-making processes of businesses and governments worldwide, defense growth in Saudi Arabia has been dramatic and, based on previous orders, the numbers are not going to slow down.
Saudi arms imports, which rose 54 percent to touch US$6.46 billion in 2014, is expected to grow a further 52 percent and reach $9.8 billion in 2015. Meanwhile, India with its $5.57 billion worth of weapons purchase fell to second position in arms imports. The top five importers in 2014 were Saudi Arabia, India, China, the UAE and Taiwan. The 2013 rankings were India, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Taiwan and China.
The report also noted that in 2015 one out of every seven dollars spent on defense imports around the world will be spent by Saudi Arabia and this spending spree by the Kingdom would surpass the defense spending by Western Europe combined.
The IHS report shows that the year gone by saw global defense trade rise for the sixth straight year to a record US$64.4 billion. The growth in supplies was attributed to expanding demand from emerging economies for military aircraft and rising tensions in the Middle-East and Asia Pacific.
"When we look at the likely export addressable opportunities at a global level for the defense industry, five of the 10 leading countries are from the Middle East. Moreover, this regional market has the potential to reach nearly $120 billion in defense opportunities in the coming decade, "said Ben Moores, an analyst with IHS.
Meanwhile, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), a Swedish think tank that produces incisive reports on arms trade, the United States continued to remain the top defense exporter by a large margin, ahead of its nearest rivals Russia, Germany, China, and France.
These five top exporters accounted for three-quarters of all international arms exports. The United States was also the biggest beneficiary when it came to Middle Eastern markets with $8.4 billion worth of exports to the region in 2014.