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Saudi Arabia Economy Profile

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Economy - overview

Saudi Arabia has an oil-based economy with strong government controls over major economic activities. It possesses about 16% 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 87% of budget revenues, 42% of GDP, and 90% of export earnings.

Saudi Arabia is encouraging the growth of the private sector in order to diversify its economy and to employ more Saudi nationals. Approximately 6 million foreign workers play an important role in the Saudi economy, particularly in the oil and service sectors; at the same time, however, Riyadh is struggling to reduce unemployment among its own nationals. Saudi officials are particularly focused on employing its large youth population.

In 2017, the Kingdom incurred a budget deficit estimated at 8.3% of GDP, which was financed by bond sales and drawing down reserves. Although the Kingdom can finance high deficits for several years by drawing down its considerable foreign assets or by borrowing, it has cut capital spending and reduced subsidies on electricity, water, and petroleum products and recently introduced a value-added tax of 5%. In January 2016, Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister MUHAMMAD BIN SALMAN announced that Saudi Arabia intends to list shares of its state-owned petroleum company, ARAMCO - another move to increase revenue and outside investment. The government has also looked at privatization and diversification of the economy more closely in the wake of a diminished oil market. Historically, Saudi Arabia has focused diversification efforts on power generation, telecommunications, natural gas exploration, and petrochemical sectors. More recently, the government has approached investors about expanding the role of the private sector in the health care, education and tourism industries. While Saudi Arabia has emphasized their goals of diversification for some time, current low oil prices may force the government to make more drastic changes ahead of their long-run timeline.

GDP (purchasing power parity)$1,609,323,000,000 (2019 est.)

$1,604,007,000,000 (2018 est.)

$1,565,891,000,000 (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$792.849 billion (2019 est.)
GDP - real growth rate-0.9% (2017 est.)

1.7% (2016 est.)

4.1% (2015 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$46,962 (2019 est.)

$47,597 (2018 est.)

$47,309 (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars
Gross national saving33.6% of GDP (2019 est.)

33.2% of GDP (2018 est.)

30.4% of GDP (2017 est.)
GDP - composition, by end usehousehold consumption: 41.3% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 24.5% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 23.2% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 4.7% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 34.8% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -28.6% (2017 est.)
GDP - composition by sectoragriculture: 2.6% (2017 est.)

industry: 44.2% (2017 est.)

services: 53.2% (2017 est.)
Ease of Doing Business Index scoresOverall score: 71.6 (2020)

Starting a Business score: 93.1 (2020)

Trading score: 76 (2020)

Enforcement score: 65.3 (2020)
Population below poverty lineNA
Labor force13.8 million (2017 est.)

note: comprised of 3.1 million Saudis and 10.7 million non-Saudis
Labor force - by occupationagriculture: 6.7%

industry: 21.4%

services: 71.9% (2005 est.)
Unemployment rate6% (2017 est.)

5.6% (2016 est.)

note: data are for total population; unemployment among Saudi nationals is more than double
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24total: 28.8%

male: 19.9%

female: 62.6% (2018 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: NA

highest 10%: NA
Distribution of family income - Gini index45.9 (2013 est.)
Budgetrevenues: 181 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 241.8 billion (2017 est.)
Taxes and other revenues26.4% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)-8.9% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
Public debt17.2% of GDP (2017 est.)

13.1% of GDP (2016 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)-2% (2019 est.)

-4.5% (2018 est.)

-0.8% (2017 est.)
Credit ratingsFitch rating: A (2019)

Moody's rating: A1 (2016)

Standard & Poors rating: A- (2016)
Agriculture - productsmilk, dates, poultry, fruit, watermelons, barley, wheat, potatoes, eggs, tomatoes
Industriescrude 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-2.4% (2017 est.)
Current Account Balance$15.23 billion (2017 est.)

-$23.87 billion (2016 est.)
Exports$221.1 billion (2017 est.)

$183.6 billion (2016 est.)
Exports - commoditiescrude petroleum, refined petroleum, polymers, industrial alcohols, natural gas (2019)
Exports - partnersChina 20%, India 11%, Japan 11%, South Korea 9%, United States 5% (2019)
Imports$119.3 billion (2017 est.)

$127.8 billion (2016 est.)
Imports - commoditiescars, broadcasting equipment, refined petroleum, packaged medicines, telephones (2019)
Imports - partnersChina 18%, United Arab Emirates 12%, United States 9%, Germany 5% (2019)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$496.4 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$535.8 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Debt - external$205.1 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$189.3 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Exchange ratesSaudi riyals (SAR) per US dollar -

3.7514 (2020 est.)

3.75 (2019 est.)

3.7518 (2018 est.)

3.75 (2014 est.)

3.75 (2013 est.)
Fiscal yearcalendar year

Source: CIA World Factbook
This page was last updated on September 18, 2021

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