"The previous high was in fiscal year 2009, when American weapons sales overseas totaled nearly $31 billion.
"A worldwide economic decline had suppressed arms sales over recent years. But increasing tensions with Iran drove a set of Persian Gulf nations — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Oman — to purchase American weapons at record levels.
"These Gulf states do not share a border with Iran, and their arms purchases focused on expensive warplanes and complex missile defense systems."
Saudi Arabia, the report concludes, bought about $33.7 billion worth of weapons. $33.4 billion were purchased from the United States. India followed with $6.9 billion and the United Arab Emirates came in third with $4.5 billion.
Russia, by the way, was the second biggest seller with $4.8 billion in agreements.
"Put it another way, that purchase alone would give Saudi Arabia the world's 11th highest military spending," Foreign Policy reports. "Given that the Kingdom's total spending in 2011 was just $48.5 billion according to SIPRI, the purchase was a pretty significant upgrade."
The report notes that the Saudi purchases distort the market, which is likely not growing as those figures might suggest.