The Middle East is turning into one of the largest buyer of military unmanned aerial vehicles. Growing demand is supported by the investment capabilities of the countries in the region, as well as the tensions that are actually rising in the Middle East. Currently, the U.S. and Israel are the top UAV exporters globally. Israel’s lack of military ties with Arab nations due to historic conflicts means that Middle East countries have had no option but to procure UAVs from the United States. However, other countries are achieving significant success in UAV technology and may soon be able to export to the Middle East. Regional interest and expertise in the domain is rising fast as well. A key market driver is the fear of spreading regional unrest. UAVs can offer smaller states a way to expand their strength beyond traditional capabilities. The lack of UAV capability in the larger Middle East states significantly influences regional power dynamics. For instance, the Hezbollah movement recently acknowledged its use of UAVs against Israel. Gulf Arab states are alarmed at the civil war in Syria and want to ensure that popular uprisings in North Africa do not spread to the Gulf. They are also concerned about Iran’s nuclear program. As a result, every large country in the region understands the need to acquire UAVs. Since traditional defence partners, the UK and France, have limited UAV capability, Middle East countries are looking for other partners. Turkey, with strong cultural ties to the Middle East, has made significant developments in unmanned capability. It is highly likely that Middle East countries will import a good number of UAVs from Turkey when the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) ANKA UAV is ready for export. Interestingly, Pakistan-made UAVs have also managed to generate interest in the Middle East.

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