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Saudi Arabia Defence and Security Report Q4 2013

Saudi Arabia defence market: Latest market research analysed

Saudi Arabia will continue to invest heavily in defence procurement, giving it military superiority over most of its neighbours in what will remain a volatile region. However, the country's long-term security outlook is less certain. The authoritarian royal family is ageing. Unrest in the country's Shi'a-dominated Eastern Province remains serious. Regional crises, notably the ongoing civil war in Syria, and the global stand-off with Iran over its nuclear programme could affect Saudi Arabia in unknown ways.

These foreign crises are numerous from Riyadh's perspective. Sectarian violence and al-Qaeda continue to plague Yemen to the south. War between Israel and Iran - Saudi Arabia's regional foe - could have grave repercussions for Riyadh if Iran successfully foments rebellion among Shi'a Muslims in Eastern Province and also in Bahrain.

However, Saudi Arabia is attempting to engage with other countries in the region, including Iran, in order to reduce the risk of serious instability. In the part, Riyadh has reached out to Tehran by inviting former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to visit Mecca; the two countries are also members of a 'Syria Contact Group' set up by the Egyptian government. It remains to be seen whether the improving relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran continue under Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani, who was elected on August 3.

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