The Economy of Saudi Arabia

The Economy of Saudi Arabia

Saudi or Saudi Arabian Economy

Economy - overview: Saudi Arabia has an oil-based economy with strong government controls over major economic activities. It possesses more than 20% of the world's proven petroleum reserves, ranks as the largest exporter of petroleum, and plays a leading role in OPEC. The petroleum sector accounts for roughly 80% of budget revenues, 45% of GDP, and 90% of export earnings. About 40% of GDP comes from the private sector. Roughly 6.4 million foreign workers play an important role in the Saudi economy, particularly in the oil and service sectors. High oil prices through mid-2008 have boosted growth, government revenues, and Saudi ownership of foreign assets, while enabling Riyadh to pay down domestic debt. The government is encouraging private sector growth - especially in power generation, telecommunications, natural gas exploration, and petrochemicals - to lessen the kingdom's dependence on oil exports and to increase employment opportunities for the swelling Saudi population, nearly 40% of which are youths under 15 years old. Unemployment is high, and the large youth population generally lacks the education and technical skills the private sector needs. Riyadh has substantially boosted spending on job training and education, infrastructure development, and government salaries. As part of its effort to attract foreign investment and diversify the economy, Saudi Arabia acceded to the WTO in December 2005 after many years of negotiations. The government has announced plans to establish six "economic cities" in different regions of the country to promote development and diversification. The last five years of high oil prices have given the Kingdom ample financial reserves to manage the impact of the global financial crisis, but tight international credit, falling oil prices, and the global economic slowdown will reduce Saudi economic growth in 2009.


GDP - real growth rate: 4.2% (2008 est.) 3.4% (2007 est.) 3.2% (2006 est.)

GDP - per capita:

GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 3.1% industry: 61.6% services: 35.4% (2008 est.)

Population below poverty line:

Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: NA% highest 10%: NA%

Distribution of family income - Gini index:

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

Labor force: 6.74 million note: about one-third of the population in the 15-64 age group is non-national (2008 est.)

Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 6.7% industry: 21.4% services: 71.9% (2005 est.)

Unemployment rate: 8.8% among Saudi males only (local bank estimate; some estimates range as high as 25%) (2008 est.)

Budget: revenues: $293 billion expenditures: $136 billion (2008 est.)

Industries: crude oil production, petroleum refining, basic petrochemicals, ammonia, industrial gases, sodium hydroxide (caustic soda), cement, fertilizer, plastics, metals, commercial ship repair, commercial aircraft repair, construction

Industrial production growth rate: 4.5% (2008 est.)

Electricity - production: 179.1 billion kWh (2007 est.)

Electricity - production by source:

Electricity - consumption: 156.8 billion kWh (2006 est.)

Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2007 est.)

Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2007 est.)

Oil - production: 9.2 million bbl/day (2008 est.)

Oil - consumption: 1 million bbl/day (2008 est.)

Oil - exports: 8.2 million bbl/day (2007 est.)

Oil - imports: 41,680 bbl/day (2005)

Oil - proved reserves: 266.8 billion bbl (1 January 2008 est.)

Natural gas - production: 75.9 billion cu m (2007 est.)

Natural gas - consumption: 75.9 billion cu m (2007 est.)

Natural gas - exports: 0 cu m (2007 est.)

Natural gas - imports: 0 cu m (2007 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves: 7.167 trillion cu m (1 January 2008 est.)

Agriculture - products: wheat, barley, tomatoes, melons, dates, citrus; mutton, chickens, eggs, milk

Exports: $311.1 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)

Exports - commodities: petroleum and petroleum products 90%

Exports - partners: US 17.1%, Japan 16.3%, South Korea 9.7%, China 8.1%, Taiwan 4.7%, Singapore 4% (2007)

Imports: $92.4 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)

Imports - commodities: machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, chemicals, motor vehicles, textiles

Imports - partners: US 12.6%, China 9.4%, Germany 8.8%, Japan 8.1%, Italy 5%, South Korea 4.9%, UK 4.5% (2007)

Debt - external: $63.2 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:


Currency code:

Exchange rates: Saudi riyals (SAR) per US dollar - 3.75 (2008 est.), 3.745 (2007), 3.745 (2006), 3.747 (2005), 3.75 (2004)

Fiscal year:

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