Economic Trends/Outlook in Saudi Arabia
The Saudi Arabian economy is entirely based on oil. The country has the largest oil reserves in the World and is also the World's biggest oil producer and exporter. Oil accounts for more than 90% of the country's exports and nearly 80% of government revenues. The recovery of the demand in 2010 helped to stabilize growth and offers hope for a favorable recovery in 2011.
The big construction works policy led by the government as well as direct foreign investments and the solidity of the banking and financial system have allowed this country to become the first economy in the region and one of the major ones in the world.
Inflation, which had reached a record 10% in 2008, mainly due to the increase in the prices of food products has decreased. In addition to this, the kingdom’s authorities wish to abolish all the existing subsidies, which will in fact lead to an increase in prices.
The government wants to reduce the kingdom's dependence on the oil sector by diversifying its economic activities and in developing mainly the agricultural, food, and industry sectors. The kingdom has a stable and high-quality banking and financial system.
Private investments are supported by generous government financing and incentive plans. The standard of living is one of the highest in the region with USD 15,352 GDP/inhabitant. The country is still marked by an unemployment rate of about 11%. Tourism generates highly significant revenues (nearly 4 million tourists per year), exclusively on account of the pilgrimage to Mecca.
|GDP (billions USD)||376.27e||443.69e||578.57e||606.02e||628.12e|
|GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change)||0.6e||3.7e||7.5e||3.0e||3.4e|
|GDP per Capita (USD)||14,745e||16,996e||21,685e||22,225e||22,540e|
|General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP)||16.0e||10.8e||8.3e||7.1e||6.2e|
|Inflation Rate (%)||5.1e||5.4e||6.0e||5.6e||4.3e|
|Unemployment Rate (% of the Labor Force)||10.5e||10.5e||-||-||-|
|Current Account (billions USD)||20.48e||39.86e||51.62e||64.66e||-|
|Current Account (in % of GDP)||5.5e||9.1e||10.8e||12.5e||-|
Source: IMF - World Economic Outlook Database
Note: (e) Estimated Data
Main Sectors of Industry
Agriculture accounts for 3% of the GDP and employs 15% of the active population. It is not a very productive sector despite the huge state investments. Saudi Arabia imports most of its agricultural and food product requirements because of the geographical and climatic contraints. Water scarcity is a serious regional problem that the country is likely to face in the coming years, as growing cultivation of wheat presents a strong threat of water depletion.
The industrial sector represents two thirds of the GDP. It is dominated by non-manufacturing activities (oil drilling). The industrial sector portion, other than oil, is growing due to Saudi state investments, to diversify the economy, the kingdom having tapped into its financial reserves accumulated by the soaring oil prices.
Lastly, services represent 22% of the GDP. This sector is mainly dominated by tourism, financial and insurance services and the banking sector.
|Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector||Agriculture||Industry||Services|
|Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment)||4.7||19.8||75.4|
|Value Added (in % of GDP)||2.3||69.3||28.4|
|Value Added (Annual % Change)||1.1||4.8||4.2|
Source: World Bank - Last Available Data.
Indicator of Economic Freedom
- Moderately free
- World Rank:
- Regional Rank:
Sources of General Economic Information
Ministry of Finance
Ministry of Economy and Planning
Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources
Ministry of Commerce and Industry
Ministry of Agriculture and Water
- Statistical Office
Central Department of Statistics and Information
- Central Bank
The Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA)
- Stock Exchange
Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul)
- Other Useful Resources
Capital Market Authority
King Faisal Foundation
- Main Online Newspapers
List of Saudi Newspapers
List of Arabic newspapers
- Economic Portals
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2012 Country Commercial Guide for U.S. Companies doing business in Saudi Arabia.
U.S. Commercial Service Poland on 24 Sep 2012 related to Economic Trends/Outlook in Saudi Arabia
Oil plays an important role in Saudi Arabia’s economy, accounting for about 90% of exports and 80% of government revenue.
Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) on 30 Jun 2012 related to Economic Trends/Outlook in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is politically and economically stable, yet lack of transparency is a problem. Openness to trade and investment is improving, and taxes are low.
Euromonitor International on 8 Apr 2010 related to Economic Trends/Outlook in Saudi Arabia
U.S. Department Of Commerce, Poland
Government Trade Promotion, Hong Kong SAR
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