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Saudi Camouflage Patterns
- Sep 28, 2018 -

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (المملكة العربية السعودية) is an Islamic absolute monarchy and the largest Arab nation in the Middle East. The Armed Forces of this nation comprise a number of conventional as well as non-conventional branches, the latter including the Saudi Arabia National Guard (SANG - essentially a private army loyal to the throne), the Saudi Royal Guard Regiment, Emergency Force (an anti-terrorism branch), the Saudi Special Forces (Thunder Forces), and the Border Guards and National Police Force. Some of these branches now have their own distinctive camouflage pattern.


Saudi Camouflage Patterns

  • With early ties to Britain, some of the earliest camouflage patterns worn by this nation mirror those of the British Army. Two early patterns are documented, both derivatives of the original four-color desert DPM pattern developed in the UK. The oldest is probably a literal copy of the British version (initially sold to Iraq), although using slightly different colors. Seen below are examples of two early Saudi desert DPM patterns (1980s), attributed both to the National Guard and the Army.

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  • Another desert DPM type pattern from this time period uses a similar color scheme, but a completely different set of drawings. Although retaining some of the traditional features of DPM (such as stippling), the shapes themselves are obviously different, lacking the traditional "whorl" or circular orientation. The exact origin of this pattern is unknown, although it is attributed to use by the SANG during the 1980s.

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  • Incorporating a different color palette but utilizing the same drawings as the above pattern features lavender, black and light blue disruptive shapes. This variation in all likelihood dates to the same era and probably saw use with special security forces or police units.

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  • The pattern seen here is seemingly related to the above, having unique shapes not normally found in standard DPM patterns. This design has been worn for an undetermined number of years by units of the Saudi National Security Council (مجلس أمن قوم المملكة العربية السعودية), and appears to have been phased out in the present era by a pixelated version.

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  • Long supportive of Saudi Arabia through large military contracts, the United States has had significant impact on the nation's armed forces in terms of camouflage uniforms as well. Indeed, the United States supplied the Saudis with US-made uniforms for a number of years, from the same factories and contractors that produced them for the US government. Both olive green and m81 woodlandcamouflage uniforms made in the USA were worn by Saudi forces in the late 1980s, although both began being phased out in the early 1990s in favor of desert camouflage designs. The woodland design continued to be favored by Saudi Special Forces in the 1990s, however, as it set the unit apart from the rest of the Saudi Armed Forces.

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  • Probably the longest-lived and most universally distributed camouflage pattern worn by the Saudi Armed Forces was a copy of the US designed six-color "chocolate chip" desert pattern. This was introduced to Saudi units in the late early 1990s and continued well into the present period in one form or another. Several variants have been produced as well. Both US and Asian contract uniforms have been documented, varying slightly in terms of coloration and orientation of the screens, of which the images below are only a sample.

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  • The General Directorate of Border Guards falls under the administration of the Ministry of Interior. For many years, this service has worn a grey variant of the standard six-color "chocolate chip" desert camouflage pattern. A similar pattern was also worn by units in Kuwait and the UAE. It is interesting to note that many collectors have identified the pattern for years as being for the Saudi Marines due to the symbolism of the shoulder insignia often found on surplus examples. Nevertheless, there is no evidence that the pattern was ever worn by Saudi units other than the Border Guard Directorate.

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  • Locally-produced copies of the standard US tricolor desert pattern have also been in use since the early 2000s as well. These vary in coloration, and are printed on a variety of fabric types.

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  • The Saudi Ministry of the Interior has in recent years adopted its own distinctive desert camouflage pattern, sometimes nicknamed "cracked earth" pattern for its resemblance to the dark cracks that emerge on sun-baked earth in the wadis of this region.

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  • Falling under the administration of the Ministry of the Interior (وزارة الداخلية) are the Special Security Forces, or Emergency Force (قوات الطوارئ), a special operations unit tasked with counter-terrorism, anti-smuggling, hostage rescue, and other specialized duties. In the early 2000s, a new variation of the six-color desert pattern was introduced for use by the Emergency Forces. This design features black & grey "chips" over reddish-brown, dark olive green and dark tan shapes on a sandy background. As with many camouflage patterns worn by this nation, mild color and fabric variations have been documented coming from different sources. At least a couple photographs have also depicted members not apparently attached to this unit wearing the pattern, so it may be the entire MOI has access to this camouflage and not simply the Emergency Force.

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  • Bearing some similarities to the above design, but having a different distribution of colors, the camouflage design seen below has been documented in use by the Royal Saudi Air Defence Forces. It is undetermined whether the pattern continues to be worn.

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  • Another branch of the Ministry of Interior with its own camouflage pattern is the Public Security Directorate (PSD) or مديرية الأمن العام. Members of this branch wear a two-color design, similar to that worn by Kuwait, having large shapes in brown or olive green on a greyish-tan background. As previously noted, variations in this design have been documented and no doubt more exist as a result of sourcing fabrics from different producers.

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  • Also falling under the administration of the Ministry of the Interior is the Special Security Force for the Hajj and Umrah, formed in 2008 and tasked with providing security to pilgrims visiting Mecca and its nearby holy sites. The camouflage design worn by this unit has a grey-black colorway and is influenced by DPM drawings.

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  • The General Directorate of Narcotics Control also falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Interior and is specifically tasked with suppressing the sale or importation of illicit substances into the country. Agents of this department often wear a variation of the three-color desert pattern having a slightly modified color palette.

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  • The King Fahd Security College (كلية الملك فهد الامنيه), located in Riyadh, prepares college graduates for careers in various security positions within the Ministry of Interior, Police, Civil Defense, Intelligence, Immigration, and other sectors. The college is operated by the Ministry of the Interior, and both faculty and students wear a camouflage uniform with tan/grey colorway, based on the US-designed {{USA|tricolor desert]] pattern. At least two variations have been noted, probably based on different drawings of the tricolor design. These have since been replaced with a pixelated designsome time after 2010.

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  • Around the year 2005, the Saudi Ministry of Interior introduced a DPM variant for issue to Special Security Force. Incorporating dark brown, russet & yellow-tan disruptive shapes on a sandy background, the pattern is quite different from the original version worn during the 1980s.

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  • Following on the footheels of many North American and European nations, several new digital or pixelated camouflage designs have been introduced recently for issue to various military and government agencies of this nation. One of the first designs to appear is this desert pattern for the the Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG). This design has the Royal crest of this unit embedded into the pattern. The design has similarities to those worn by Kuwait and the UAE, but all appear to have distinctive characteristics that set them apart from each other.

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  • The conventional Armed Forces, including the Royal Saudi Land Forces and Royal Saudi Air Force, have adopted their own digital desert camouflage pattern, seen below. Differing in both coloration and textual features from that worn by the SANG, this design has a more yellowish hue, and seems to be heavily influenced by the MARPAT design of the US Marine Corps. Unlike some of the other designs recently adopted, this version does not have a crest or logo embedded into the pattern.

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  • The Saudi Royal Guard Regiment has also adopted its own pixelated design, seen here. A bit more colorful than the desert drab patterns of the regular Armed Forces and SANG, this design features russet, pink-brown and pea green on a tan background. At least two variations have been documented, the second having a different shade of green, as well as a reversed printed of the light brown and light green elements. Although the initial design featured the crest of the Royal Guard Regiment embedded into this pattern, subsequent printings appear to lack this detail.

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  • The pixelated pattern seen here, essentially a copy of the "Universal Camouflage Pattern" (UCP) produced by the USA, was adopted circa 2014 by the Royal Saudi Air Force. In unfaded condition, the Saudi colors are considerably darker than those of the original UCP, and have a slightly more blue tone to them. This appears to be worn in conjunction with the earlier documented desert design.

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  • One of the non-military government agencies that has adopted its own camouflage design is the Diplomatic Security branch of the Saudi National Security Council (مجلس أمن قوم المملكة العربية السعودية). This appears to be a pixelated version of a previously-issued DPM-derivative design.

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  • Some members of the Installations Security Forces (Critical Structure Security) branch of service wear their own distinctive pixelated camouflage pattern, having rather large-sized pixels in desert tones. At least two variations are known, possibly produced by different manufacturers or at different times.

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  • Since around 2014, faculty and students at the King Fahd Security College have adopted a new pixelated camouflage design with a vertical orientation. Early versions of this pattern have a dark blue/grey colorway, while the later version has black in place of the dark blue.

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  • Falling under the administration of the Ministry of the Interior, the Saudi General Directorate of Prisons also issues a pixelated camouflage pattern to selected personnel. The design features black, medium gray, and light blue shapes on a pale grey background.

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  • Within the Ministry of the Interior, the Agency for Regiment Affairs is tasked with security and counter-insurgency duties in support of the military and security authorities operating in the southern region. Members of this unit wear a copy of the USMC temperate MARPAT with a slightly reduced pixel size, and no EGA logo embedded into the design.

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