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Saudi Arabia Economy

    Economy—overview: This is a well-to-do oil-based economy with strong government controls over major economic activities. 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. The petroleum sector accounts for roughly 75% of budget revenues, 40% of GDP, and 90% of export earnings. About 35% of GDP comes from the private sector. Roughly 4 million foreign workers play an important role in the Saudi economy, for example, in the oil and service sectors. The Saudi economy was severely hit by the large decline in world oil prices in 1998. GDP fell by nearly 11%; the budget deficit rose to $12.3 billion; and the current account recorded a $13 billion deficit—the first in three years. The government announced plans to implement large spending cuts in 1999 because of weak oil prices and will continue to call on greater private sector involvement in the economy. Shortages of water and rapid population growth will constrain government efforts to increase self-sufficiency in agricultural products.

    GDP: purchasing power parity—$186 billion (1998 est.)

    GDP—real growth rate: -10.8% (1998 est.)

    GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$9,000 (1998 est.)

    GDP—composition by sector:
    agriculture: 6%
    industry: 53%
    services: 41% (1996)

    Population below poverty line: NA%

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

    Inflation rate (consumer prices): -0.2% (1998 est.)

    Labor force: 7 million
    note: 35% of the population in the 15-64 age group is non-national (July 1998 est.)

    Labor force—by occupation: government 40%, industry, construction, and oil 25%, services 30%, agriculture 5%

    Unemployment rate: NA%

    Budget:
    revenues: $32.3 billion
    expenditures: $44 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (1999 budget est.)

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

    Industrial production growth rate: 1% (1997 est.)

    Electricity—production: 95 billion kWh (1996)

    Electricity—production by source:
    fossil fuel: 100%
    hydro: 0%
    nuclear: 0%
    other: 0% (1996)

    Electricity—consumption: 95 billion kWh (1996)

    Electricity—exports: 0 kWh (1996)

    Electricity—imports: 0 kWh (1996)

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

    Exports: $59.7 billion (f.o.b., 1997)

    Exports—commodities: petroleum and petroleum products 90%

    Exports—partners: Japan 18%, US 15%, South Korea 11%, Singapore 8%, India 4% (1997 est.)

    Imports: $26.2 billion (f.o.b., 1997)

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

    Imports—partners: US 23%, UK 17%, Japan 8%, Germany 8%, Italy 5% (1997 est.)

    Debt—external: $NA

    Economic aid—donor: pledged $100 million in 1993 to fund reconstruction of Lebanon; since 1993, Saudi Arabia has committed $208 million for assistance to the Palestinians

    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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Revised 1-Mar-99
Copyright © 1999 Photius Coutsoukis (all rights reserved)