Gulf nations boost military spending to 132 bln in 2015

IDEX underway in Dubai, largest defense exhibition in MENA

23 February, 16:14

    Opening of IDEX Opening of IDEX

    (by Alessandra Antonelli) (ANSAmed) - DUBAI - As tensions and military commitments rise across the entire Middle East and as oil prices drop on international markets, the UAE is holding the largest defense exhibition and conference (IDEX) in the region. Gulf monarchies are now actively taking part in operations and not just financing them, such as in airstrikes on Islamic State (ISIS) positions by the UAE and Bahrain, it was noted at the exhibition. Amid speculation on to what extent oil price oscillations can affect defense budgets of countries with a surplus able to absorb a deficit for at least five years, Jane's estimates that the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) will spend over 132 billion euros in 2015, equal to 10% growth every year since 2012. The US-based Avascent instead forecasts 5% growth in defense spending in the Middle East until 2020. Gulf nations account for - and are expected to continue to do so - over 80% of the spending. Saudi Arabia spends the most and was seventh at the world level last year at 43 billion euros, followed by the UAE (13.2 billion euros in purchases) at 15th worldwide. The UAE and Jordan are among the countries that have made the move to start producing as well as purchasing by investing in a national military industry. The UAE, which has the largest number of companies taking part in IDEX - 202, compared with the US's 163 and the UK's 80 - has created an integrated market that consists of 11 companies worth almost three billion euros. Among the 150 exhibitors from 55 countries, the Italian Pavilion counts 32 enterprises (the fourth largest European presence and seventh worldwide) including Beretta, Piaggio Aerospace, Iveco, Fincantieri (previously partner of the joint venture Etihad Ship Building) and Finmeccanica. Gulf monarchies have asked one of its firms, DSR Tecnologies, for order reprogramming to deal with the fall in oil prices, reports Gulf News. (ANSAmed).

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