Arms imports to Arab states of the Gulf increased by 23 per cent from 2004–08 to 2009–2013, accounting for 52 per cent of imports to the Middle East in the latter period. Saudi Arabia rose to become the 5th largest importer of major weapons worldwide in 2009–13, compared to 18th in 2004–08.

Several Gulf states have invested heavily in advanced, long-range strike systems and air and missile defence systems. This includes large orders for and deliveries of combat aircraft with precision-guided weapons from the United Kingdom and the USA.

‘The USA, which accounted for 45 per cent of arms deliveries to Gulf states, has signed a series of major deals which will maintain its high levels of arms exports to these countries. In 2013, for the first time, the USA allowed the sale of long-range air launched cruise missiles to Gulf states,’ said Pieter Wezeman, Senior Researcher with the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme. […]