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Gulf states defense budgets to hit USD 100bn in 2019.

| 2018

Current forecast for 2019 is that the Gulf states' military spending is expected to hit $100bn for the first time. The six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries registered six percent growth in military expenditures in 2018. The GCC includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Gulf states defense budgets to hit USD 100bn in 2019
Saudi Humvees armed with TOW antitank missiles and .50 machine guns (Picture source:

"The six percent growth that we've seen this year is expected to slow, but growth rates of three to four percent a year are sustainable over the next decade, meaning that defence spending is likely to hit a record $100bn next year with increases in spending primarily focused on modernising and expanding military force structure and improving readiness in response to continuing regional instability," Jane's analyst Craig Caffrey said. "If we see any significant increases in oil prices we will probably see further growth or, at the very least, more procurement activity," he added.

A major driving factor behind the increase in defence procurement has been the involvement of GCC armies in conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen. These long-term operations have led to an increase in spending on military equipment, intelligence gathering and the bolstering of combat aircraft fleets. The blockade of Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt since June last year has also led to GCC countries trying to bolster their military capabilities. Countries in the region are also continuing to leverage large defence procurements to improve domestic military and non-military technological capabilities through offset programmes. Most notably, Saudi Arabia aims to increase domestic defence procurement spending from 2 percent to 50 percent by 2030 as part of the country's Vision 2030 goals.

Jane's predicted defence spending by GCC countries will continue to increase in the next five years and is likely to reach $117bn by 2023. North America and Europe provide about 95 percent of all defence equipment acquired by the Gulf states, with the United States alone accounting for about half of all the exports in the last five years. However, GCC countries have also begun to look at other suppliers such as Russia, China, Turkey, and Australia for their defence needs.

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