In recent years Qatar has boosted its defense spending drastically going from being included in the top ten countries for the first time in 2015 to coming in third place this year.
Only Saudi Arabia and India surpass Qatar as an importer of defense materials from the year 2007 until 2016. From 2005 until 2014 Qatar was not even on the list of top ten importers. In 2015 Qatar ranked sixth after drastically increasing military imports from France, including a $7.1 billion contract for two dozen Dassault Rafale planes. Qatar also bought $2.4 billion worth of AH-64 Apache attack helicopters from the USA, and boats and missiles from Italy.
“Despite low oil prices, countries in the region continued to order more weapons in 2016, perceiving them as crucial tools for dealing with conflicts and regional tensions,” senior researcher at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Pieter Wezeman, said in February.
SIPRI data shows that Qatar’s spending on arms grew by almost 300% from 2012 until 2016.
Saudi Arabia is still the largest importer of arms in the world. The UK, USA and France are the most important sellers to the Middle East, while also being among the world’s top exporters.
Last June Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut all ties with Qatar after saying that the country was a supporter of terrorism. A few days after the region began a blockade on Qatar, US President Donald Trump allowed the sale of arms to Qatar valued at $12 billion. That was only a few days after Trump also accused Qatar of supporting terrorism.