Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia








Saudi Arabia is the second largest Arab country, with a population estimated at 31.5 million, growing at 2%, in 2015.[1] The population density is 14.6 inhabitant per square kilometer,[1] with 83% of the Saudi population living in urban areas (2015).[2] Youth below 30 years old accounted 54% of the total population in 2014, compared to 67% in 2000.[1] The nationals made up 65.7% of the population in the country in 2015.[9]

The maternal mortality rate in Saudi Arabia is low scoring 12 per 100,000 in 2015, and so is the infant mortality rate of 12.5 per 1,000.[4] The total fertility rate is 2.7 children born per woman in 2015.[1] 

Saudi Arabia has made significant strides in the education sector. Adult literacy rates soared to 94.8% in 2015, up from 79.4% in 2000. In the same context, primary enrollment rates increased from 93.1% in 2005 to 108.7% in 2014 and the Gender Parity was maintained at the primary level. Remarkably, tertiary gross enrollment rates witnessed a considerable growth from 22.2% in 2000 to 61.6% in 2014, the highest rate among the Arab countries, as a result of the Government commitment to promoting education, especially at the tertiary level. Besides, the tertiary Gender Parity Index (GPI) scored 1.0 in 2014.[4]

Saudi Arabia has the largest GDP (Purchasing Power Parity, constant 2011 prices) among Arab countries reaching Int$ 1,586 billion in 2015, with a Gross National Income (GNI) per capita (Purchasing Power Parity) at Int$ 54,730 in 2015.[4] As an oil-based economy, the oil sector comprised around 28% of GDP in 2015, decreasing from 50.8% in 2011.[5] In the same context, oil revenues accounted for 72.5% of total revenues in2015.[6] Over the last three years, real GDP growth (constant 2005 prices) remained relatively constant at 3.2%,[6] and the inflation rate, it declined from 3.8% in 2010 and 2011 to 2.7% and 2.2% in 2014 and 2015, respectively.[7] The Saudi government also reduced its public debt to 5.8% of GDP in 2015, down from 37.3% of GDP in 2005.[6]

Even though government expenditures declined at a rate of 11.8%, the cash deficit increased reaching 15% of GDP due to a decline in Government revenues by 41% in 2015. The cash balance scored a deficit in 2002 at 15% of GDP,[6] at the same time, the budget deficit (expected) scored 15% of GDP in 2015.[6] With the accumulation of substantial fiscal and financial buffers in recent years, these can be used to smooth the impact of the lower oil prices in the short-term. However, a long-term decline remains a challenge to the Government and calls for a fiscal reform adjustment.[8]

Saudi Arabia has the second largest oil reserves in the world and the sixth largest natural gas reserves. Fuel exports accounted for about 78.4% of the country’s total exports in 2015.[4] On the other hand, cars are the top imports in Saudi Arabia amounting to 14.4% of total imports in 2015.[9]

The Saudi international trade-to-GDP ratio reached 82% in 2014 compared to 68.5% in 2000.[4] The Saudi trade balance amounted to 108.3 billion Saudi Riyal in 2015, and the trade balance with the GCC countries accounted 30.2 billion Saudi Riyal (2014), while the trade balance with other Arab countries accounted 24.7 billion Saudi Riyal (2015).[9]

The main trading partners for Saudi Arabia are East Asian countries (China, Japan, and South Korea) and the United States. The Government of Saudi Arabia has been investing in diversifying its economy away from crude oil and natural gas by implementing economic and development reforms. As part of this effort, the Government has been encouraging investment in downstream industries, enhancing education and health services, and modernizing infrastructure.[10]

Saudi Arabia is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) and the Greater Arab Free Trade Agreement (GAFTA). In 2008, the GCC has signed with Singapore a Free-Trade Agreement (FTA) that entered into force in 2013. Besides, a Free Trade Agreement signed in 2009 between the GCC and the EFTA states (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) entered into force in 2014.[11]

With a growing working age population of a sizable labor force that accounted 12.1million persons in the second half of 2015,[9] and a high public employment for nationals, Saudis have been increasingly encouraged to enter into the private sector, despite the fact that it is still largely dominated by non-Saudi workers.

The Saudi unemployment rate reached around 5.6% in the second half of 2015, with women facing the biggest share of unemployment at 21.4% compared to only 2.4% for men. In addition, cultural restrictions have made it difficult for Saudi women to enter into the workforce, where women national unemployment rate registered 33.8% in the second half of 2015 compared to only 5.3% for men.[9] However, the government has attempted to create more job opportunities for women by adjusting the work environment.

Youth unemployment in Saudi Arabia is becoming a social challenge, having registered has the highest youth unemployment rate in the GCC region at 31% in2015.[4] The absence of efficient education reforms is allegedly one of the reasons behind the difficulties faced by some of the young Saudi job seekers. 

Saudi Arabia is the second largest holder of proved reserves of crude oil in the world after Venezuela. Crude oil reserves accounted 266.5 billion barrels in 2015.[12] The country is the largest exporter of total petroleum liquids in the world and one of the World’s largest producers of crude oil; producing 3.7 billion barrels of crude oil (2015) [12] and 1.9 million barrels of petroleum products ( 2012).[13] Saudi Arabia is the largest oil-consuming nation in the Middle East; in 2012, crude oil consumption registered 793.7 million barrels, an increase from the 602.2 million barrels level in 2002.[14]

Saudi Arabia has one of the world’s largest natural gas reserves, reaching 303.3 trillion standard cubic feet in 2015;[12] however, natural gas production remains limited, 119.8 billion standard cubic meter in 2015.[12] The country does not import or export natural gas, so all consumption must be met by domestic production. Saudi Arabia's natural gas production and consumption recorded 3.6 trillion cubic feet in 2014.[14]


This overview has been drafted by the ADP team based on most available data as of 30 September 2016. 


  1. World Population Prospects, Population Division, United Nations
  2. World Urbanization Prospects, Population Division, United Nations
  3. UNESCO Institute for Statistics
  4. World Development Indicators, The World Bank
  5. ADP team computations based on figures extracted from General Authority for Statistics
  6. ADP team computations based on figures extracted from the Saudi Arabian monetary agency (SAMA)
  7. International Monetary Fund (IMF)
  8. IMF Country Report No. 15/286, Oct 2015
  9. General Authority for Statistics
  10. World Trade Organization (WTO)
  11. World Trade Organization, Trade Policy Review 2016, The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  12. Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency
  13. Ministry of Economy and Planning (MEP), Saudi Arabia
  14. International Energy Statistics, U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)

Saudi Arabia Statistical Snapshot 2016
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Data Highlighted

  • The country is the largest exporter of total petroleum liquids in the world and one of the World’s largest producers of crude oil, producing 3.6 billion barrels in (2017).

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