MENA military spending has more than doubled since 2004, rising 4% to $150bn for 2013, according to a report released this week by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Saudi Arabia was the world’s fourth biggest spender, and the highest in the region in 2013, spending an estimated $67bn on defense, a 14% rise. Its global rank jumped from seventh in 2012.

Among the world’s 15 top spenders, Saudi Arabia is by far the highest as a share of GDP (9.3%), almost double that of the next highest in that list, the UAE (see table). Overall, Oman has the “largest military burden in the Middle East, at 11.3% of GDP in 2013,” SIPRI says. Iraq (27%), Bahrain (26%) and Saudi Arabia (14%) saw the largest increases in military spending last year but SIPRI was unable to obtain data for Iran, Qatar, Syria, the UAE or Yemen, as “figures for military expenditure in the Middle East have traditionally been very uncertain”. (CONTINUED - 583 WORDS)