BERLIN, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- Germany's weapons exports to the Arabian Gulf countries more than doubled in 2012 compared with one year earlier, reaching 1.42 billion euros (1.88 billion U.S. dollars), a major local newspaper reported on Friday.
According to the Munich-based Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, Saudi Arabia spent 1.24 billion euros and was by far the biggest buyer among the six states of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which also includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
The newspaper said the information was released by the Economy Ministry after the opposition Left party submitted a request in the parliament. In 2011, the arms exports to the region amounted to 570 million euros.
German military exports have to be approved by a national security council chaired by Chancellor Angela Merkel that meets behind closed doors.
Proposed arms deals with Saudi Arabia have drawn intense domestic attention and criticism. Social Democrat chancellor candidate Peer Steinbrueck said in December that it was "extremely dangerous that Germany has become the world's third largest exporter of weapons."
However, the Merkel administration views Saudi Arabia as a "stabilizing factor" in the region, while Merkel reportedly said in a speech last October that it is in Germany's interests to "enable partners to intervene effectively to preserve or re-establish security and peace in their regions."