Palm trees and buildings in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia Economy

Saudi Arabia economic overview

Regional powerhouse:

Saudi Arabia boasts the largest economy in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, with a GDP of just over USD 1 trillion (around a quarter of the MENA total) and a population of over 30 million.

Oil sector dominance:

Saudi Arabia holds the second-largest proven oil reserves of any country and was also the world's second-largest oil producer in 2022. Oil accounts for around 40% of Saudi Arabia's GDP. As a permanent and founding member of OPEC, Saudi Arabia plays an important role in the cartel's decision-making process. In 2023, Saudi Arabia cut oil production in line with other OPEC members and implemented additional voluntary cuts in a bid to stabilize oil prices. Decades of oil wealth have enabled the country to amass a huge sovereign wealth fund, which helps smooth the business cycle and ensures economic stability.

Diversification efforts:

Under Crown Prince Bin Salman, the country has made concerted diversification efforts under its Vision 2030 plan, aiming to reduce its reliance on oil and expand into other sectors such as tourism, manufacturing, and technology. High-profile projects include the construction of the world's largest solar plant, building a futuristic USD 500 billion city in the desert, and the construction of the world's tallest building in Jeddah in a bid to spur visitor arrivals. Moreover, the country introduced a value-added tax in 2018 to diversify fiscal revenue, and has introduced reforms to liberalize the labor market.

Challenges:

Notwithstanding diversification efforts, the country remains reliant on oil for a large share of government revenue, making it vulnerable to oil price swings. Moreover, female labor force participation—though it has roughly doubled in the last few years—is low, and the neighboring UAE is generally considered to be a more attractive place for foreigners to settle and do business. Moreover, the government's push to establish new economic sectors could lead to economic waste.

Saudi Arabia's economic outlook:

GDP growth over the next several years will likely be driven by the non-oil sector thanks to the government's diversification drive, with the oil sector likely to exhibit a more volatile performance that will depend on changes to OPEC quotas.

Saudi Arabia's economy in numbers:

Nominal GDP of USD 1,107 billion in 2022.

GDP per capita of USD 34,410 compared to the global average of USD 10,589.

Average real GDP growth of 2.9% over the last decade.

Share of the region's population
Share of the region's GDP

Economic structure:

In 2021, services accounted for 52% of overall GDP, manufacturing 13%, other industrial activity 33%, and agriculture 2%. Looking at GDP by expenditure, private consumption accounted for 41% of GDP in 2021, government consumption 24%, fixed investment 24%, and net exports 11%.

GDP by economic sector
GDP by type of expenditure

International trade:

In 2020, manufactured products made up 20% of total merchandise exports, mineral fuels 68%, food 2%, ores and metals 2% and agricultural raw materials 0%, with other categories accounting for 8% of the total. In the same period, manufactured products made up 72% of total merchandise imports, mineral fuels 3%, food 15%, ores and metals 3% and agricultural raw materials 1%, with other goods accounting for 6% of the total. Total exports were worth USD 411 billion in 2022, while total imports were USD 176 billion.

Key exports
Key imports
Key export partners
Key import partners

Economic growth:

The economy recorded average annual growth of 2.9% in the decade to 2022. To read more about GDP growth in Saudi Arabia, go to our dedicated page.

Fiscal policy:

Saudi Arabia's fiscal deficit averaged 2.9% of GDP in the decade to 2022. Find out more on our dedicated page.

Unemployment:

The unemployment rate averaged 6.2% in the decade to 2022. For more information on Saudi Arabia's unemployment click here.

Inflation:

Inflation averaged 1.9% in the decade to 2022. Go to our Saudi Arabia inflation page for extra insight.

Monetary Policy:

Saudi Arabia's monetary policy rate ended 2022 at 5.00%, up from 2.00% a decade earlier. See our Saudi Arabia monetary policy page for additional details.

Exchange Rate:

From end-2012 to end-2022 the riyal stayed on the same level vs the U.S. dollar. For more info on the riyal, click here.
The economy shrank 3.7% in annual terms in Q4, following Q3’s 4.4% decline. This was the result of a double-digit fall in the oil sector amid oil output cuts made unilaterally and those agreed with OPEC+. In contrast, non-oil growth was strong, supported by the government’s concerted diversification drive. In 2023 as a whole, GDP contracted at the sharpest pace since 2020. Turning to this year, our Consensus is for economic activity to broadly stabilize in annual terms in Q1. The decline in oil production should soften in the quarter on a higher base effect, while the non-oil economy should continue to expand at a robust pace. That said, Saudi Arabia’s commitment made late last year to extend its 1-million-barrel-per-day cut to oil production through to end-March raises the risk of a contraction in Q1.
Projections out to 2033.

49 indicators covered including both annual and quarterly frequencies.

Consensus Forecasts based on a panel of 26 expert analysts.

Want to get insight on the economic outlook for Saudi Arabia in the coming years? FocusEconomics collects projections out to 2033 on 49 economic indicators for Saudi Arabia from a panel of 26 analysts at the leading national, regional and global forecast institutions. These projections are then validated by our in-house team of economists and data analysts, and averaged to provide one Consensus Forecast you can rely on for each indicator. This means you avoid the risk of relying on out of date, biased or outlier forecasts. Our Consensus Forecasts can be visualized in whichever way best suits your needs, including via interactive online dashboards , direct data delivery and executive-style reports which combine analysts' projections with timely written analysis from our in-house team of economists on the latest developments in the Saudi Arabia economy. To download a sample report on the Saudi Arabia's economy, click here . To get in touch with our team for more information, fill in the form at the bottom of this page .

Saudi Arabia Economic Data

2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Population (million) 30.2 30.1 31.6 30.8 32.2
GDP (USD bn) 846 838 734 874 1,107
GDP per capita (USD) 28,032 27,889 23,256 28,390 34,410
GDP (SAR bn) 3,175 3,145 2,754 3,278 4,157
Economic Growth (Nominal GDP, ann. var. %) 18.4 -0.9 -12.4 19.1 26.8
Economic Growth (GDP, ann. var. %) 2.8 0.8 -4.3 4.3 8.7
Economic Growth (GDP non-Oil, ann. var. %) -0.9 3.5 -3.0 6.4 5.3
Economic Growth (GDP Oil, ann. var. %) 2.3 -3.3 -6.7 0.2 15.4
Domestic Demand (ann. var. %) 0.4 6.9 -6.1 7.0 4.7
Private Consumption (ann. var. %) 2.5 6.5 -8.1 9.5 4.9
Government Consumption (ann. var. %) 9.3 -3.0 3.3 0.8 9.3
Fixed Investment (ann. var. %) 2.4 4.8 -10.4 10.7 21.7
Exports (G&S, ann. var. %) 7.2 -5.0 -10.6 1.0 19.7
Imports (G&S, ann. var. %) 2.6 9.6 -19.7 8.3 12.4
Industry (ann. var. %) 0.4 -1.9 -5.9 1.1 13.2
Oil Production (mn barrels per day, aop) 10.31 9.77 9.19 9.08 10.53
Unemployment (% of active population, aop) 6.0 5.6 7.7 6.6 5.6
General Government Revenues (SAR bn) 906 927 782 965 1,268
General Government Expenditures (SAR bn) 1,079 1,059 1,076 1,039 1,164
Fiscal Balance (% of GDP) -5.5 -4.2 -10.7 -2.2 2.5
Public Debt (% of GDP) 17.6 21.6 31.0 28.8 23.8
Money (ann. var. of M3 %) 2.7 7.1 8.3 7.4 8.1
Inflation (CPI, ann. var. %, eop) 1.9 -0.2 5.3 1.2 3.3
Inflation (CPI, ann. var. %, aop) 2.5 -2.1 3.4 3.1 2.5
Inflation (WPI, ann. var. %, eop) 15.7 3.7 5.2 13.3 3.0
SAMA Repo Rate (%, eop) 3.00 2.25 1.00 1.00 5.00
SAMA Reverse Repo Rate (%, eop) 2.50 1.75 0.50 0.50 4.50
3-Month Interbank Rate (%, eop) 2.90 2.24 0.82 0.87 5.28
Exchange Rate (SAR per USD, eop) 3.75 3.75 3.75 3.75 3.76
Current Account Balance (USD bn) 72.9 38.4 -25.5 41.7 151.3
Current Account Balance (% of GDP) 8.6 4.6 -3.5 4.8 13.7
Merchandise Trade Balance (USD bn) 168.7 121.3 47.9 136.4 235.0
Merchandise Exports (USD bn) 294 262 174 276 411
Merchandise Imports (USD bn) 126 140 126 140 176
Merchandise Exports (ann. var. %) 32.7 -11.1 -33.6 58.9 48.7
Merchandise Imports (ann. var. %) 1.8 11.7 -10.3 11.0 25.8
OPEC Oil Basket Price (USD per Barrel) 69.8 64.0 41.5 69.9 100.1
Foreign Direct Investment (USD bn) 4.2 4.6 5.4 19.3 7.9
International Reserves (USD bn) 497 500 453 455 459
International Reserves (months of imports) 47.4 42.7 43.2 39.1 31.4

Q&A:

  1. What is the economic future of Saudi Arabia?

  2. Saudi Arabia's economic outlook is promising, underpinned by its Vision 2030 strategy focused on diversifying from oil to a knowledge-based economy. Investments in non-oil sectors like tourism, technology, and renewable energy, along with business environment reforms to attract foreign investment, position the country for positive long-term growth and regional economic leadership despite near-term global challenges.

  3. What is Saudi Arabia's main source of income?

  4. Saudi Arabia's main source of income is the export of oil, which accounts for nearly 90% of government revenue. The country holds about 15% of the world's proven oil reserves and is one of the world's largest exporters of crude oil. After decades of oil-driven growth, the government is now implementing strategies to diversify its economy.

  5. What is the economic strategy of Saudi Arabia?

  6. Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 strategy seeks to diversify its economy beyond oil, focusing on non-oil sectors like tourism, manufacturing, and technology. It aims to boost private sector growth, attract foreign investment, and enhance global competitiveness through reforms including privatization, educational enhancement, and infrastructure development.

  7. What are some challenges to Saudi Arabia's economy?

  8. Saudi Arabia's economy is held back by its dependence on oil and difficulties diversifying away from the resource, high youth unemployment, fiscal sustainability issues due to high spending and fluctuating oil revenues, and vulnerability to global economic downturns and geopolitical tensions affecting trade and investments.

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