Saudi Arabia: World’s 3rd largest weapons buyer with US as its top supplier

Copenhagen: Saudi Arabia is the world’s third-biggest purchaser of weapons, two-thirds of which are supplied by the US according to an annual arms trade report published Monday by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

The institute is an independent international entity established in 1966 that is devoted to the research of global conflicts, armaments, arms control and disarmament, whose conclusions are published in its “Yearbook 2018: Armaments, Disarmament and International Security.”

According to SIPRI’s report on the global weapons trade covering the last five-year period, 61 per cent of Saudi weapon imports were shipped from the US, 23 per cent came from the United Kingdom and 3.6 per cent originated from France, with Spain in fourth place and a 2.4 per cent share, Efe reported.

Other countries that also sold weapons to Saudi Arabia (on a smaller scale) during this five year period included: Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Canada, Turkey or Sweden, with a trading volume of around one percent.

Between 2013 and 2017, Saudi Arabia became the world’s second largest arms importer, right behind India, representing a 10 per cent share of the international arms sales during that period.

Saudi Arabia purchased 78 combat aircraft, 72 helicopters, 328 tanks and around 4,000 sundry armed vehicles.

According to the SIPRI 2018 report, Saudi Arabia with a population of 33 million, had the world’s third highest defence budget, only surpassed by the US that, with 316 million inhabitants, spent nine times more and China with 1,380 million citizens, spent three times more.

In 2017, Saudi Arabia earmarked $69.4 billion equivalent to 4 per cent of the world’s defence expenditure and 10 per cent of the kingdom’s Gross National Product.

This figure includes wages, weapons and equipment purchases, pensions, maintainence and administrative expenses.