Swiss perspectives in 10 languages

Qatar football World Cup boosts Swiss arms exports

Skyline of Doha, Qatar
Qatar bought Swiss air defence system to help protect its airspace during the forthcoming football World Cup in the Gulf state, Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

Swiss arms exports rose more than 40% to CHF516 million ($526 million) in the first half of this year.

The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) said the increase was mainly due to the sale of air defence systems to Qatar worth nearly CHF160 million.

The Gulf state bought the Swiss systems to help protect stadiums during the football World Cup taking place in November and December, according to a SECO statement on Tuesday.

After Qatar, the top five buyers were Denmark, Saudi Arabia, Germany and Botswana. Denmark and Botswana bought armoured vehicles and Germany ammunition and spare parts.

Switzerland hasn’t sold new systems to Saudi Arabia since 2016 in order to prevent them being used in the Yemen war. Sales to Riyadh encompassed spare parts and ammunition for air defence systems, SECO said.

It added that the value of weapons exports have varied considerably over the years. In the first half of 2019 sales totalled CHF273 million, reached CHF501 million in 2020 before dropping again to CHF357 million in June 2021.


In line with Switzerland’s traditional neutrality, weapons exports to Ukraine are banned in principle, including those via third countries.

In April the government vetoed a request by Denmark to send Swiss-made armoured personnel carriers to Ukraine. It also blocked the re-export of Swiss-made ammunition for German anti-aircraft tanks.

However, the Swiss government approved a request to sell spare parts for war materiel to Germany and Italy to be re-exported to Ukraine.

Most Read
Swiss Abroad

Most Discussed

In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here . Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR