Series: Armed Forces in the Middle East (Saudi Arabia)

Saudi Arabia ranks third in the list of the most powerful militaries in the Middle East. Here are some data.

$56.7 billion defense budget
233,500 active frontline personnel
1,095 tanks
652 aircraft

The territorially largest country in the Middle East also has the fourth-highest military spending of any country in the world. The country’s arms buildup has largely been driven by sales from the US and other Western countries.

As a result, Saudi Arabia has the most updated arsenal in the region, with the exception of Israel. Its air force has air-to-air refueling capabilities and advanced fighter jets.

“Saudi Arabia has a lot of air capabilities that a lot of the countries in the region don’t have,” Megahan said, adding that it was plausible the Saudis could soon have a more advanced air force than even Israel.

Saudi Arabia is in a tough neighborhood — the country borders Iraq and Yemen, two of the most chronically unstable countries in the region. But with 36% of the population under the age of 24, a sclerotic monarchy, and sectarian tensions, Saudi Arabia might be building its military strength with future internal turmoil in mind.

Indeed, Harmer says that Saudi Arabia’s national guard — which is responsible for internal security, and not organized with external defense in mind — is one of the most capable security forces in the entire region.

Key allies: The relationship with the US has been flagging in recent years, but the two are still close partners and Saudi Arabia is still a major purchaser of US arms. Saudi Arabia is the most powerful of the tightly allied Gulf monarchies, a group that includes Kuwait, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates, and Riyadh has provided substantial assistance to the post-coup government in Egypt. It is also speculated that Saudi Arabia has secretly funded Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program.

Source: Business Insider UK 2014


One comment

  1. eugeniolilli

    Update: Saudi Arabia outspent Russia in military and defense spending last year, outpaced only by the United States and China, according to an annual report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.


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