Saudi Arabia is the largest Arab nation in Middle East Asia. The country is bordered by Jordan to the north, Iraq to the northeast, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE to the east, Oman to the southeast, and Yemen to the south. The Arabian Gulf lies to the northeast and the Red Sea to the west. Saudi Arabia has a population of more than 28 million and has an area of approximately 830,000 square miles. Saudi Arabia has a desert-based climate. While the port of Jeddah is warm for most of the year, Riyadh is hotter during the summers and colder during the winters. Saudi Arabia is also one of the driest countries of the world.
Saudi Arabia’s economy is largely oil-based with strong government controls on most economic activities. Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest exporter of petroleum and is an important member of the OPEC. The country’s petroleum sectors account for 45% of the GDP and 90% of the export earnings. The Saudi economy is also dependent on roughly 6 million overseas workers, mostly in the oil and service sectors. Saudi Arabia has been a member of the WTO since December 2005 to attract foreign investment.
During the oil price boom of 2004-2008, the Kingdom built ample financial reserves to offset the global downturn. However, falling oil prices in 2009 impacted the Saudi economy, prompting the postponement of several economic development projects. The Saudi government undertook remedial measures, such as direct capital injections into financial institutions, reduced rates and guaranteed bank deposits.
Saudi Arabia Economy: GDP and Labor
Saudi Arabia’s GDP-official exchange rate in 2009 was $379.5 billion. The following chart shows Saudi Arabia’s GDP (PPP) during 2007-2009. (All data are in US dollar billion.)
The next chart shows Saudi Arabia’s real growth rate during 2007-2009. (All data are in percentages.)
The following chart illustrates Saudi Arabia’s GDP-per capita during 2007-2009. (All data are in US dollars.)
The chart below shows the breakdown of Saudi Arabia’s GDP by sectors. (All data are in percentages.)
Saudi Arabia’s total labor force amounts to 6.922 million, of which more than 80% are immigrant workers. Saudi Arabia’s unemployment rate in 2009 stood at 11.6%, marginally ahead of the 2008 estimates of 11.6%. The following chart illustrates the breakdown of Saudi Arabia’s labor force by sector.