May 17, 2023

Nine Arab countries entered the list of the 40 largest arms importers, while two Arab countries managed to break into the list of the 25 largest arms exporters, according to the latest report of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

The Stockholm Institute report, issued this March, included statistics and data for the nine Arab countries that imported the most weapons between 2018 and 2022, out of a total of 40 countries.

Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Egypt were among the top ten arms importers in the world.

While the list of the largest arms exporters included the United States (40 percent), Russia (16 percent), France (11 percent), China (5.2 percent), Germany (4.2 percent), Italy (3.8 percent), Britain (3.2 percent), and Spain (2.6 percent). ), South Korea (2.4 percent) and Israel (2.3 percent).

Both the UAE and Jordan were able to enter the club of arms exporters, and to secure their place among the 25 largest arms exporting countries.

Most Arab countries import weapons

There are no aggregate statistics for the Arab countries, but the Stockholm Institute report indicated that more than 260 combat aircraft were exported to the Middle East, and the Gulf countries alone submitted orders for the purchase of more than 180 combat aircraft.

Where the Gulf states acquire most of the Arab arms deals, while arms imports declined in the Maghreb region, while they stabilized in Egypt.

1/ Saudi Arabia:

It ranked second in the world in arms imports after India (11 percent), accounting for 9.6 percent of the total arms imported in the world, between 2018 and 2022.

However, Saudi Arabia’s arms imports declined slightly compared to the period from 2013 to 2017, when it recorded 10 percent of global arms purchases, a decrease of 8.7 percent.

The United States came on top of countries supplying weapons to the Kingdom with a rate of 72 percent, or nearly three-quarters, which reflects the size of the Saudi relationship with American weapons, followed by France (6.4 percent) and Spain (4.9 percent).

2/ diameter

Qatar jumped from the 17th largest arms importer between 2013 and 2017, to the third in the world between 2018 and 2022, with an increase of 311 percent.

As its share of global arms imports increased from 1.5 percent to 6.4 percent between the two aforementioned periods, and this increase coincided with the threats that the country was facing during the Gulf crisis (2017-2021).

The United States topped the list of countries exporting arms to Qatar with 42 percent, then France with about 29 percent, and Italy with 14 percent.

3/ Egypt

The economic crisis that Egypt is going through did not affect the share of its arms imports, and it settled at 4.5 percent of the world’s arms trade in the two periods under study, with a slight decline of -5.3 percent.

However, it fell from the third place in the world to the sixth place.

Although Egypt receives US military aid of about $1.3 billion annually, the United States is not among the three largest arms suppliers to it.

Russia topped the list of suppliers to Egypt with about 34 percent, followed by Italy and France with 19 percent each.

4/ Emirates

The UAE has declined in the list of the largest arms importers, from the fifth rank in the world (2013-2017) to the 11th rank (2018-2022).

This decline included the country’s share of global arms imports, which fell from 4.1 percent (2013-2017) to 2.7 percent (2018-22), a significant decrease of -38 percent between the two periods.

It is likely that the decline in the country’s arms imports is related to the country’s shift towards manufacturing part of its own weapons, and even exporting the surplus, until it became among the top 25 arms-exporting countries, which enriched it to import certain types of weapons.

The country ranked 18th in the world in arms exports, accounting for 0.4 percent of the world’s total arms exports.

Egypt (28 percent), Jordan (27 percent), and Algeria (15 percent) were at the top of UAE arms customers.

As for arms suppliers to the UAE, the United States maintained its lead with about 66 percent, followed by Turkey (7.4 percent).

The irony is that Russia ranked third with 5.4 percent, although the UAE army is known for its reliance on Western weapons, but since the beginning of the new century it has begun to open up to new markets such as Turkey, Russia and China.

5/ Kuwait

Kuwait recorded a jump in the volume of its arms imports between the two study periods, amounting to 146 percent, as it increased from 0.9 percent (2013-2017) to 2.4 percent (2018-2022).

The country rocketed from 23rd to 12th in the world, surpassing 11 countries.

The United States dominated Kuwait’s arms imports by more than three-quarters (78 percent), Italy was far behind it by about 10 percent, and France was behind it with 9 percent.

6/ Algeria

Algerian arms purchases witnessed a sharp decline of -58 percent, between the two study periods (2013-2017) and (2018-2022).

Arms imports declined from 4.1 to 1.8 percent between the two aforementioned periods, and this affected the country’s ranking among major arms importers, which moved from 12th to 18th in the world.

However, Algeria remained at the top of the African countries importing weapons, with the exception of Egypt, which the study classifies as one of the countries of the Middle East.

The decline in the volume of Algerian arms purchases negatively affected the African continent, whose share of arms imports decreased from 8 to 5 percent, compared to the increase in European arms imports from 11 to 16 percent.

It is possible that this decline in arms purchases is due to US pressure on Algeria to stop importing weapons from Russia, especially since the Algerian defense budget remained high and approached $10 billion annually, and even doubled in the 2023 budget.

Also, Algeria’s shift to manufacturing some types of weapons locally in partnership with Germany and the UAE, especially armored vehicles and various mechanical vehicles and light weapons, allowed it to reduce the value of its military imports, and its willingness to shift towards exporting military equipment that reached the stage of saturation.

Russia acquires most of Algeria’s arms imports, especially from combat aircraft and military helicopters, by 73 percent, and Germany by 10 percent. It was surprising that France ranked third with 5.2 percent, despite the fluctuating relations between the two countries, in conjunction with the escalation of Chinese military exports to Algeria.

7/ Morocco

Like Algeria, Morocco’s arms imports declined from 1.1 to 0.8 percent, and it ranked 29th in the world, after it was ranked 21st.

Morocco is the second largest importer of arms in Africa after Algeria, and the decline in their arms imports has reduced Africa’s share in the imported arms market.

The United States accounts for most of the country’s arms imports by more than three-quarters (76 percent).

While France ranked second with 15 percent, which indicates Paris’s desire to achieve a balance between Algeria and Morocco, who represent an important market for its weapons.

It is also remarkable that Morocco sought to open up to the eastern bloc, represented by China, which obtained a 6.8 share of arms deals.

8/ Jordan

Although the Hashemite Kingdom ranked penultimate in the list of forty countries that import weapons, prepared by the Stockholm Institute, what distinguishes it is that it is the second Arab country in the list of the top 25 countries that export weapons.

Jordan’s arms exports amounted to 0.2 percent, an increase of 14 percent between the two periods.

Jordanian weapons were directed towards the American market (61 percent), Egyptian (26 percent), and Armenian (7 percent).

As for the Kingdom’s imports, it decreased from 0.8 percent to 0.5 percent of global arms imports, i.e. a decrease between the two periods estimated at -39 percent.

The United States topped the countries supplying arms to Jordan with about 40 percent, followed by the UAE with 20 percent, then Russia with about 17 percent.

The map of arms suppliers to the Kingdom reflects a kind of diversity, despite its close relations with Washington, but Oman did not put all its eggs in the American basket, and this explains its import of weapons from the UAE and Russia, close to the value with which it imported weapons from the United States.

9/ Bahrain

Although the Kingdom of Bahrain ranked forty and last, it recorded the highest Arab growth rate in arms imports between the two study periods, by about 380 percent.

It was preceded internationally only by Ukraine (8,631 percent), NATO (2,700 percent), and Serbia (743 percent).

Bahrain’s share of global imports was 0.5 percent between 2018 and 2022, up from 0.1 percent between 2013 and 2017.

American weapons dominated the country’s imports by 83 percent, while Britain got a 7 percent share, and Italy 4.1 percent.

The list of the forty major arms importers did not include prominent Arab countries such as Iraq, Syria, the Sultanate of Oman, Sudan, Libya, Tunisia, Mauritania and Lebanon.

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