"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.
"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.