Saudi Arabia

Key Facts:

  • Area: 2,149,690 sq km .

  • Coastline: 2,640 km .

  • Geography, note: extensive coastlines on Arabian Gulf and Red Sea provide great leverage on shipping (especially crude oil) through Persian Gulf and Suez Canal.

  • Population: 28,686,633 Include 5,576,076 non nationals (July 2009 est.)

  • Population growth rate: 1.848% (2009 EST.).

  • Administrative divisions: 13 provinces .

  • Climate: harsh, dry desert with great temperature extremes .

  • Seaports: 8 Commercial and industrial ports (Saudi Ports Authority) .

  • Airports: 4 International 21 domestic (KSA Civil Aviation) .

  • GDP: SR 848.6 Billion (KSA Ministry of Economy).

  • GDP by Sector: agriculture: 3.1% industry: 61.6% services: 35.4%.

  • Exports commodities: petroleum and petroleum products 90% .

  • Export Partners: US 17.1%, Japan 16.3%, South Korea 9.7%, China 8.1%, Taiwan 4.7%, Singapore 4% .

  • 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% .

  • Rank in Global Competitiveness 2008: 27 .

  • Natural gas consumption: 75.9 billion cu m .

  • Natural gas exports: 0 cu m .

  • Natural gas .imports: 0 cu m .

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

  • 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 .

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. 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.

Plans for four economic cities have been implemented while the two remaining cities were placed on hold. Saudi Arabia moves up eight ranks from last year, placing 27th out of 134 countries. The most notable advances have been achieved with respect to the institutional framework for doing business, where the country moved from 41st to 34th, and the efficiency of goods markets, where it improved by 17 ranks, up from 51st to 34th. These results mirror recent reforms such as the greater ease of setting up new businesses and the overhaul of the judiciary, which has been initiated.

Economic cities:

At a cost of more than $60 billion, the Kingdom has planned and begun constructing four metropolitan marvels - a project that promises to significantly alter the economic landscape of Saudi Arabia while providing a wealth of Greenfield opportunities to investors.

Saudi Arabia General Investment Authority (SAGIA) has launched four integrated Economic Cities, located in Rabigh (King Abdullah Economic City), Hail (Prince AbdulAziz bin Mousaed Economic City), Madinah (Knowledge Economic City) and Jazan (Jazan Economic City).

The objectives of the Economic Cities are to: Promote balanced regional development, Achieve economic diversification, Create jobs and Upgrade competitiveness. SAGIA’s vision for the Economic Cities is to contribute more than US$150 billion in annual GDP, to create over a million jobs, and to become home to 4.5 million residents by 2020. Serving the wide ranging needs of these large communities will require immense private sector involvement. Fully utilizing their commercial and industrial potential will offer even greater opportunities for investment.

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