Middle East starts to make a name for itself as an arms seller, not just a buyer

A Middle East defence firm has been ranked among the top 25 arms sellers in the world for the first time. Data compiled by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) show that sales by the largest 25 arms and military services companies were worth a combined $361 billion in 2019, 8.5% more than the year before.

By Dominic Dudley

The U.S. dominates the list, being home to 12 of the top 25, including the five largest: Lockheed Martin LMT +1.8%, Boeing BA -1.7%, Northrop Grumman NOC +0.7%, Raytheon and General Dynamics GD +0.6%, with annual sales ranging from $24.5 billion up to $53.2 billion.

A little further down the list is UAE-based Edge, which was set up in November 2019 via the merger of more than 25 existing local defence companies, with some 12,000 employees between them. The group includes small arms maker Caracal and armoured vehicle firm Al-Nimr, among others.

Edge is ranked at 22 overall, with an estimated $4.7 billion in arms sales last year, although Sipri warns that the figure has “a high degree of uncertainty.”

“Edge is a good illustration of how the combination of high national demand for military products and services with a desire to become less dependent on foreign suppliers is driving the growth of arms companies in the Middle East,’” said Pieter Wezeman, senior researcher with the Sipri arms and military expenditure programme.

Technology transfer

The Gulf region is also a popular location for the world’s defence giants to set up subsidiaries and joint ventures. According to Sipri, the 15 largest arms companies between them have 24 offshoots in Saudi Arabia and a further 11 in the UAE. READ MORE HERE