UK arms to the Middle East – An infographic breakdown

UK exports to the Middle East has come into focus recently and this infographic from the Guardian shows just how much we have been exporting to each of the countries in the region.

Good points:

1 – The use of overlapping circles shows what we have been trading, and the relative size of arms sales to other controlled sales.

2 – The use of red for military hardware, and blue for other controlled exports is a striking way of showing these differences. Opposing colours are easier to take in, and red is a good choice of colour for the controversial military exports, which most Guardian readers would find interesting.

3 – Looking at the whole region, rather than country by country, helps us to see the overall picture of arms deals with the region.

4 – Being able to compare the whole region means we can compare countries to each other. Knowing we traded £270million worth of’s arms  military hardware with Algeria doesn’t mean much when you don’t know how much military items cost. Knowing that military deals to Algeria were almost four times greater than those to Saudi Arabia (just £64.3million) does raise further questions for investigation.

Bad points:

1 – The pictures at the bottom of protests and army parades seem to have been added to beautify the infographic, not for information. But the information is the most important thing – pretty pictures aren’t necessary to make a pretty infographic.

2 – They also cloud the issue – we can’t guarantee that British arms have been used against protesters, and although most would agree that some of the region’s governments have been very harsh on the protests, this is still a subjective view – the pictures are emotive and affect the conclusions we are encouraged to make.

3 – Showing the mountain ranges in darker colours might be prettier, but the infographic is cluttered as it is – less colours and detail, more focus on the facts.

4 – The time period the infographic refers to is not very clear – its the year until September 2010, but this is written in very small print and not immediately clear – it should have been in the heading.

Overall, a good infographic, but with too much focus on design and not enough on presenting the facts.


About Rakesh Ramchurn

I am an MA Magazine Journalism student studying at City University London. Love infographics and all things italian. Comment on my blog posts, or tweet me: @italophiliac
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