War in Ukraine boosting defence industry in the Middle East

By Defence Industry Europe

On July 20 Al Arabiya News published an article claiming that Russia's invasion of Ukraine is making it difficult for Moscow to maintain its position as a global arms exporter. As a result, countries in the Middle East and North Africa are building their domestic arms industries, and technology transfers are leading to the formation of new regional producer alliances.

Russia can no longer offer the same quantities of weaponry as before: it is depleting its equipment on the battlefield, and the cumulative effect of Western sanctions prevents it from importing certain key components. Additionally, the blows Moscow is taking on the frontlines are impacting the reputation of its arms industry. Consequently, countries that were once customers of Russian weaponry are now developing their own defence industries or engaging in regional partnerships, according to the analysis by the US-based think tank, The Washington Institute.

The article highlights that Turkey signed agreements with Qatar last year for joint production of artillery and tanks, and with Kazakhstan for drone manufacturing. Egypt also struck a deal with South Korea in December of the previous year for cooperation in artillery and trainer aircraft production, and in the spring of this year, Egypt expressed its intentions to collaborate with India. Egypt and India were among the largest importers of Russian defence products.



Analysts believe that the Gulf States might significantly alter their military equipment acquisition model. Saudi Arabia, for instance, aims to meet 50% of its defence needs through domestic production by the end of the decade. The country is collaborating with China to build shipyards and develop drones, and its national sovereign fund, fueled by profits from oil exports, is financing the growth of domestic manufacturing companies. In the United Arab Emirates, the EDGE production group already enjoys annual revenues of $5 billion and, according to Al Arabiya’s evaluation, it has so effectively utilized opportunities that in 2023, it received the largest order from the government during the Abu Dhabi national defence exhibition.

As Russia faces challenges, countries with the ability to navigate the shifting global arms market, such as Israel and Turkey, will benefit, according to Al Arabiya. On the other hand, Russia’s clients will have to consider the risks of depending on Moscow as their dominant supplier.



The article also predicts that the attack on Ukraine will result in the further development of military cooperation between Russia and its longtime rival, Iran. However, this will be accompanied by an increase in arms spending among Arab countries, especially in the domain of anti-aircraft systems and drones. According to the portal, Middle Eastern producers capable of meeting regional demands will establish a strong position in the market. Furthermore, technology transfers will foster new partner relationships beyond the traditional alliances of Middle Eastern countries with the West, China, or Russia.



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