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Armament vs Development
Arms deals in the Middle East
A report issued by The International Center for Development Studies in London, revealed that the total arms deals in the Arab world during 2013, amounted to about 165 billion dollars.
The report pointed out that arms spending in the region have increased following the events of the Arab Spring at a high rate. The average spending on arms during the period from 2002 to 2010 amounted to $ 70 billion annually, but it has increased in the past two years to reach $ 100 billion annually. During 2013 arms deals accelerated by an increase of nearly 65% from last year.
The report said that arms spending in the Arab region are not commensurate with its development needs.
The large increase in population, which is expected to reach more than 450 million people in 2025, is imposing major challenges to governments in the region.
Food gap, estimated at $ 145 billion, needed attention to develop investments in the field of agriculture and water resources.
Arab countries need to invest over $ 200 billion in irrigation and secure sources of fresh water until the year 2023, which is equivalent to only 20% of the proportion of expected spending on arms during that period.
The report points to a major contradiction between the size of spending on armaments in the Arab world and experienced rates of poverty and unemployment in the region.
Numbers of unemployed Arab youths have increased to more than 20 million. This has led to an increase in poverty rates to 40%, where the number of poor people in the Arab region has reached 140 million people.
According to the report, the arms budget for 2013 is enough to give each poor and unemployed in the region, the amount of one thousand dollars and the surplus of $ 5 billion would be enough for a number of development projects.
Arab countries spend nearly 7.2% of their GDP on armaments, while spending on education makes 2.5% only of the total GDP.
Despite keen efforts to combat illiteracy in the Arab world, this phenomenon has risen to the rate of 27.7% of the population.
In addition to the increase in spending on armaments, The International Centre for Development Studies has predicted a nuclear arms race in the region, especially after the nuclear deal with Iran.
According to the report, arms deals will increase next year by 25% to reach $170 billion, 72% of it will be spent by Gulf States.
With lower oil prices, lifted economic sanctions on Iran and rising U.S. production of Shale oil, the spending on armaments would press clearly on the budgets of the Gulf States. These countries have to find productive projects and services to cope with the increase in population (4% per annum). On the other hand, young job seekers are expected to reach 3.1 million in 2020.
Finally, the report pointed out that spending on arms within the Arab world in general and in the Gulf region in particular is equivalent to more than 10% of investments, including the energy sector.

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© Press Release 2013
 
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