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June 26, 2015 8:08 pm

Israel, Saudi Arabia Have World’s Largest Military Budgets as Percentage of GDP

avatar by Eliezer Sherman

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Davids Sling interceptor. Photo: Israel Defense Ministry.

Davids Sling interceptor. Photo: Israel Defense Ministry.

The two countries spending the highest percentage of their gross domestic product on defense spending are Saudi Arabia and Israel, Forbes reported on Thursday.

Saudi Arabia spent 10.4 percent of its GDP in 2014 on beefing up its military, while Israel spent 5.2% of its GDP last year on arming the Israel Defense Forces.

According to the report, Saudi Arabia boosted its military spending by 17% last year, amid concerns that its bellicose neighbor across the Persian Gulf, Iran, was working to destabilize the region and obtain a nuclear weapon.

Israel shares Saudi concerns, and reports have even surfaced of increased intelligence-sharing and defense ties between the two countries over the Iranian threat, despite having no diplomatic relations.

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While the U.S. spent $571 billion on defense last year, this only represented 3.5% of U.S. GDP. So while Israel spent $23 billion, the purchases took a much bigger chunk out of Israel’s cash. Russia spent about 4.5% of its GDP on defense, and India spent 2.4%. China, which spent $129.4 billion in 2014, only spent about 2.1% of GDP.


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  • Yale

    This item is a muddle:

    “The two countries spending ->most<- of their gross domestic product on defense spending are Saudi Arabia and Israel," As written, this should mean these countries spend more than 50% of GDP on defense, but the article itself states otherwise. What it should have said is that "The two countries that spend the highest percentage of the ir GDP on defense are…"

    Estimates of defense spending in other countries are almost always misleading because in many states where defense is a high priority men are drafted into the military and paid a pittance, unlike the members of the American military. It is usually more productive to compare priorities and what states are doing with their defense budgets.

  • The Watchman

    With Saudi, it’s just political willy waving, with Israel, they have no choice. With Saudi, the world is happy to supply this racist, fascistic, supremacist despotism, Israel has a harder job getting what she needs for survival. Meanwhile the UN stands by, eyes averted from the real terrorists, murderers and scumbags.

  • VictorMc

    Israel spends 5.7% of it’s GDP according to the CIA world factbook.
    Latest available figs.2012 – it won’t be LESS now.