Qatar’s military spending last year was 434% higher than in 2010, the last time such data was released by the Gulf state.
Last year military spending amounted to $11.6 billion, with 4.8 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) used on defence, making Qatar the fifth largest spender in the Middle East.
The figures were included in the ‘Trends in World Military Expenditure, 2021’ report published on Monday by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), which found that global military expenditure has surpassed $2 trillion for the first time.
During the period between 2010 and 2021, the report explained that Qatar “was involved in the conflicts in Libya and Syria. It also expanded its armed forces and started to upgrade its inventory of military equipment with imported arms.”
Last year, a separate SIPRI report on arms sales found that Qatar’s imports saw a 361 per cent increase from 2016 to 2020. This increase in arms trade was likely linked to Gulf Crisis of 2017. At the time, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt imposed a land and sea blockade on Qatar, which was lifted at the beginning of last year.
Among Arab states, Saudi Arabia is still the biggest spender at $55.6 billion representing a fall of 17 per cent compared to 2020. Other big spenders include Kuwait at $9 billion and Oman at an estimated $5.8 billion.
Last year, Oman allocated 7.3 per cent of it GDP on military, the highest in the world. The research also found that Saudi Arabia fell from fourth-largest spender globally in 2020 to eighth place last year.
“The decrease came amid reports that Saudi Arabia had begun to withdraw its military forces from Yemen, but the Saudi Arabian Government rejected the claims and stated that the troops were simply being redeployed,” the institute said.
Doha is also looking to bolster its sovereign wealth fund, currently worth an estimated $450 billion. According to a report by Bloomberg yesterday, “officials are discussing a plan to make Qatar Investment Authority the money manager for major state-run companies, consolidating the nation’s assets under one entity.”
The strategy, the report said, could help Doha cut costs while significantly boosting the total assets of the sovereign wealth fund, which currently ranks as the world’s ninth-largest.