UAE biggest arms importer in ME region – report

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F-16 Desert Falcons of the United Arab Emirates air force lined up on an airbase. Photo -

According to a report released by a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the UAE stands as the largest importer of arms in the Middle East over the last five years.

This revelation comes in spite of the fact that the Gulf nation has remained unaffected by the wave of Arab uprisings which has created turmoil in other Middle East nations.

The report claimed that the UAE’s total volume of annual purchases rose by 153% in 2011 while the total volume of arms imported into the UAE soared last year to 1.4bn units.

Abu Dhabi stands ninth in the world for total weapons sales between 2007 and 2011 and also tops the list for placing the biggest single order for arms.

In terms of exports, the US came first and accounting for 30 percent of all arms exported.

After the UAE, Saudi Arabia comes second at 10%, followed by neighbouring Iran with 9%.

Indigenous Capabilities

While Bahrain and Qatar host US military facilities in the Gulf, and spend less on their defence, the UAE is seeking to build “its own indigenous defensive capabilities,” the study said.

“The UAE wants to be strong and robust. It is part of their defensive doctrine,” Dr. Theodore Karasik, the director of research and development at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis (INEGMA) in Dubai, told in an interview.

According to Dan Darling, a Middle East defence analyst from Forecast International, Abu Dhabi’s wants to consolidate the nation’s air and maritime defences.

“The volume of arms imported by the UAE has increased significantly in the past decade and the country is likely to remain a major arms importer in the coming years,” the study highlighted.

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