Saudi Arabia – Overview


  • Saudi Arabia is named after the ruling Al Saud family and was established by King Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud in 1932. The Kingdom is an absolute monarchy and currently ruled by King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.
  • The Holy Koran is the constitution of the country and the government operates on the basis of Islamic (Sharia) law. No practices other than Islam are allowed.
  • Currency: The currency used is the Saudi Riyal
  • Population: Saudi Arabia is home to nearly 28 million citizens – including nationals and over 8 million expatriates.
  • The young and growing Saudi population is expected to double by 2050. Furthermore, with over 50% of the population aged under 24 years, the Saudi government has recognised the importance of harnessing the potential of its young people through education and human development.
  • Executive power rests with the Council of Ministers who are appointed by the King. There is also an active Majlis Al Shura (Consultative Council) which meets regularly and includes a number of prominent Saudi women representatives appointed for the first time in 2013.


  • Saudi Arabia has the second largest oil reserves in the world (possessing around 25% of the world’s proven reserves) and is the world’s largest oil exporter. Saudi Arabia also has access to many other natural resources, including natural gas, iron ore, gold, copper and phosphates.
  • It is a high income economy with the 19th highest GDP in the world (approximately US$750 billion).
  • The economy is largely backed by its oil industry, which accounts for more than 95% of export earnings and 70% of government revenue.
  • Ranks 18th most competitive country in the world & 22nd in the ‘Ease of doing Business Index’.
  • Since the turn of the 21st Century, there has been an attempt to diversify the economy away from the oil sector. New economic and industrial cities spread around the Kingdom are expected to contribute $150 billion to GDP.

Driven by these efforts, the non-oil sector – led by manufacturing, construction, wholesale & retail trade, banking & financial services as well as transportation sectors – has grown and accounted for 51.8% of GDP in 2013.

  • Under the current Saudisation drive, the government is investing massively in education and training to equip more Saudi nationals with the necessary skills for private sector employment.
  • Per capita income has risen from $30,000 in 2011 to $31,300 in 2013, and is forecast to rise to over $33,000 by 2020.


The following report, which was written by Allurentis in partnership with the Department for International Trade and the Committee for International Trade, provides a comprehensive overview of the Saudi Arabian economy.

Discovering Business – Saudi Arabia 2016 (original)