Economy in Saudi Arabia

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Economy—overview: This is a well-to-do oil-based economy with strong government controls over major economic activities. About 35% of GDP comes from the private sector. Economic (as well as political) ties with the US are especially strong. The petroleum sector accounts for roughly 75% of budget revenues 35% of GDP and 90% of export earnings. Saudi Arabia has the largest reserves of petroleum in the world (26% of the proved total) ranks as the largest exporter of petroleum and plays a leading role in OPEC. For the 1990s the government intends to bring its budget which has been in deficit since 1983 back into balance and to encourage private economic activity. Roughly 4 million foreign workers play an important role in the Saudi economy for example in the oil and service sectors. Helped by production above its OPEC quota Saudi Arabia continued to bring its finances closer into balance in 1997 recording a $1.6 billion budget deficit and a $200 million current account surplus. For 1998 the country looks to its policies of maintaining moderate fiscal reforms restraining public spending and encouraging nonoil exports. Shortages of water and rapid population growth will constrain government efforts to increase self-sufficiency in agricultural products.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$206.5 billion (1997 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 4% (1997 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$10 300 (1997 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:

agriculture: 6%

industry: 46%

services: 48% (1996)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 0% (1997 est.)

Labor force: 7 million

by occupation: government 40% industry construction and oil 25% services 30% agriculture 5%

note: 35% of the population in the 15-64 age group is non-national (July 1998 est.)

Unemployment rate: NA%


revenues: $47.5 billion

expenditures: $52.3 billion including capital expenditures of $NA (1998 est.)

Industries: crude oil production petroleum refining basic petrochemicals cement two small steel-rolling mills construction fertilizer plastics

Industrial production growth rate: 16% (1996 est.)

Electricity—capacity: 20.9 million kW (1995)

Electricity—production: 65 billion kWh (1995)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 3 470 kWh (1995)

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


total value: $56.7 billion (f.o.b. 1996)

commodities: petroleum and petroleum products 90%

partners: Japan 17% US 15% South Korea 10% Singapore 8% France 5% (1996 est.)


total value: $25.4 billion (f.o.b. 1996)

commodities: machinery and equipment foodstuffs chemicals motor vehicles textiles

partners: US 22% UK 12% Japan 9% Germany 8% Italy 5% France 4% (1996 est.)

Debt—external: $NA

Economic aid:

donor: pledged $100 million in 1993 to fund reconstruction of Lebanon

Currency: 1 Saudi riyal (SR) = 100 halalah

Exchange rates: Saudi riyals (SR) per US$1—3.7450 (fixed rate since June 1986)

Fiscal year: calendar year


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