Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia

Statistical Snapshot



Saudi Arabia’s population is estimated at 34.2 million [1], with 82.5 percent of the total living in urban areas.[2] According to the latest data published by the General Authority for Statistics (GaStat), people below 30 years old account for 48.6 percent of the total population, and nationals make up around 62.2 percent of the population. The total fertility rate is 1.9 children per woman, in comparison to a fertility rate of 2.3 children per women for Saudi females.[1] Life expectancy is around 75 years, and levels of maternal mortality and infant mortality are around 12 per 100,000, and 6 per 1,000 respectively.[3]


The 2019 Human Development Index (HDI) for Saudi Arabia is 0.854, positioning it at 40th out of 189 countries and territories.  The country’s value is below the average of 0.898 for countries in the very high human development group and the second in the Arab region, which averages 0.705.[4]


The Saudi Vision 2030 plan, adopted in 2016, has promoted substantial structural reforms to improve the business environment, placing among the ten most improved economies in the World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 out of 190 economies, with a total of eight reforms. Saudi’s efforts focused on strengthening access to credit, protecting minority investors, enhancing electronic trade single window, and adopting measures to facilitate resolving insolvency.[5]

 Saudi Arabia holds 17 percent of the world’s proven petroleum reserves and is ranked as the largest exporter of crude oil in 2019 [6], with the hydrocarbon sector accounting for around 50 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 70 percent of export earnings. Following the steep drop of oil prices in 2014, Saudi Arabia has declared its commitment to reduce oil dependence and to diversify its economy, as laid out in Vision 2030.[7] Despite progress expanding investment into manufacturing, tourism, technology and mining, the economy grew at a sluggish 0.3 percent in 2019, compared to an increase of 2.4 percent in 2018, largely due to a 3.7 percent decrease in the oil sector GDP. In contrast, the non-oil sector registered a strong performance, growing at 3.3 percent in 2019.[8]

The fluctuation in oil prices continue to strongly affect public finances, making fiscal balances very volatile, and increasing pressure to accelerate fiscal reforms. At the beginning of 2018, the authorities introduced a 5 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) and imposed excise duties on some products and tariffs on foreign workers. The basic VAT rate was revised to 15 percent with effect from 1 July 2020. Due to an increase in total oil revenues driven by higher energy prices in 2018 and an increase in non-oil revenues, the fiscal deficit contracted from 9.2 percent of GDP in 2017 to 5.9 percent of GDP in 2018. The fiscal deficit further narrowed in 2019, amounting to 4.5 percent of GDP, as total spending decreased and the decline in oil revenues was offset by an increase in non-oil revenues.[9]

The strict measures adopted by governments around the world to curb the spread of the Coronavirus, including travel restrictions, have reduced demand for oil.  This fall in demand resulted in a collapse in oil prices by 50 percent.[10] Saudi Arabia, as result, is facing a dual shock, putting pressure on the economy. According to the IMF, growth was estimated to drop to -5.4 percent, and the fiscal deficit to widen at around 10.5 percent of GDP.[11] Decreased tourism receipts and the suspension of pilgrimages to Mecca and Medina, which receives around 7.5 million pilgrims per year and generate $12 billion in revenue, equivalent to 20 percent of the country’s non-oil GDP and seven percent of total GDP [10], have affected the current account deficit estimated to reach  -2.5 percent in 2020.[11] In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) took many measures, including boosting the banking sector with 50 Billion SAR to support banking liquidity and private sector credit. [12]

With a weakening economy, the total unemployment rate climbed from an average of 5.8 percent in recent years to 7.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020, while that of Saudis from an average of 12 percent to 14.9 percent in Q3 2020 then decreased to 12.6 in Q4. However, Saudi labor force participation rate remains relatively low, at 51.2 percent, driven by the low participation of women, whose unemployment reached 24.4 percent in Q4 2020 compared to only 7.1 percent for men. Despite the government efforts to direct nationals into the private sector, they still occupy around 92.4 percent of its public sector jobs but only 21.7 percent of the jobs in the private sector.[1] On 3 April 2020, the government authorized the use of the unemployment insurance (SANED) to cover for 60 percent of Saudi labor's salaries for a period of three months. The aid is expected to support 1.2 million of those working in coronavirus affected companies.[13]

Under Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia launched the National Renewable Energy Program (NREP) which aims to maximize the potential of renewable energy in the Kingdom. Most recently, the country launched round three of its NREP which is comprised of four Solar PV projects with a combined generation capacity of 1,200 MW.[14]


This overview was last updated in February 2021. Priority is given to the latest available official data published by national statistical offices and/or public institutions.


[1] General Authority for Statistics. 2020. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 24 February 2021]. 

[2] Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat.2018. World Urbanization Prospects. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 24 February 2021]. 

[3] Ministry of health. 2020. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 24 February 2021]. 

[4] United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 2020. Human Development Report 2020, Saudi Arabia Briefing note. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 24 February 2021]. 

[5] The World Bank. 2019. Doing Business 2020. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 24 February 2021]. 

[6] Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). 2020. Annual statistical Bulletin. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 24 February 2021]. 

[7] Vision 2030 (KSA). 2020. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 24 February 2021]. 

[8] Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA). 2020. Economic Indices. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 24 February 2021].

[9] Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA). 2020. Fifty sixth Annual Report. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 24 February 2021].

[10]  Ministry of Hajj and Umrah. 2019. Open Data Platform. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 24 February 2021].

[11]  International Monetary Fund. October 2020.World Economic Outlook Database [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 24 February 2021].

[12] Ministry of Finance. 1 June 2020. SAMA Boosts banking sector liquidity with SAR 50 Billion. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 24 February 2021]. 

[13] Ministry of Finance. 3 April 2020. By order of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques: The Government, through Unemployment Insurance (SANED), Bears 60% of The Salaries of Saudi Private Sector labors. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 24 February 2021]. 

[14] Ministry of Energy, Saudi Arabia. January 2019. Saudi Arabia Launches Round Three of National Renewable Energy Program. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 24 February 2021]. 

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Data Highlights

  • 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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