Dubai: The UAE has become the world`s fourth biggest weapons importer - only behind China, India and South Korea, and is set to continue to buy more hi-tech arms, a leading peace research group has said in a new report.
According to the report on international arms transfers, prepared by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the UAE is in the fourth place worldwide in total arms purchase from 2005 to 2009 with the country spending USD 6.5 billion.
Notably, the UAE was ahead of Israel, in sixth place, while its nearest Arab country was Egypt, in 15th place, with USD 2.5 billion in imports.
According to the report, the US is by far the biggest supplier of arms to the UAE, the third-largest US weapons client. The UAE is also France`s biggest arms export destination.
The majority of the UAE`s spending is on aircraft, missiles and air defence systems from the US and France. From 2005 to 2009, the UAE received deliveries of 34 Mirage 2000 combat aircraft from France and 72 F-16 fighters from the US.
The UAE is poised to strengthen its position as a top importer with the delivery of Patriot-3 surface-to-air missile systems as well as transport aircraft and other missile-defence systems from the US, France and Russia.
However, the report shows a decline in UAE military imports for four consecutive years.
A report by SIPRI last April showed that the UAE was the world`s third-biggest importer of arms from 2004 to 2008 accounting for six per cent of all purchases.