Countries in the Middle East have been driving global arms sales between 2018 and 2022 as Saudi Arabia ranked the among the world’s largest arms importer during the period, according to new data published on Monday by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

The kingdom received 9.6% of all Middle East arms imports during 2018-2022, according to SIPRI.

Qatar’s arms imports increased by 311% between 2013–17 and 2018–22, making it the world’s third biggest arms importer in 2018–22.

The UAE’s arms imports in 2018–22 were 38% lower than in 2013–17, and it was the 11th largest arms importer globally. Notable arms imports in 2018–22 included hundreds of air defence missiles and over 20 000 guided bombs from the USA.

The US accounted for 54% of global arms sales to the Middle East during the period. France (12%), Russia (8.6%) and Italy (8.4%) followed.

Arms sales included more than 260 advanced combat aircraft, 516 new tanks and 13 frigates.

Arab states in the Gulf region alone have placed orders for another more than 180 combat aircraft, while 24 have been ordered from Russia by Iran (which received virtually no major arms during 2018–22.

Elsewhere, India remains the world’s top arms importer, but its arms imports declined by 11% between 2013–17 and 2018–22. Imports from Russia fell by 37%.

In 2022, Ukraine which is fighting the war with Russia, became the 3rd biggest importer of major arms during 2022 (after Qatar and India).

The SIPRI database reflects the volume of deliveries and not the financial value of the transactions.

(Reporting by Brinda Darasha; editing by Seban Scaria)