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Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam and home to Islam's two holiest shrines in Mecca and Medina. The king's official title is the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. The modern Saudi state was founded in 1932 by ABD AL-AZIZ bin Abd al-Rahman Al SAUD (Ibn Saud) after a 30-year campaign to unify most of the Arabian Peninsula. One of his male descendents rules the country today as required by the country's 1992 Basic Law. King ABDALLAH bin Abd al-Aziz ascended to the throne in 2005. Following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, Saudi Arabia accepted the Kuwaiti royal family and 400,000 refugees while allowing Western and Arab troops to deploy on its soil for the liberation of Kuwait the following year. The continuing presence of foreign troops on Saudi soil after the liberation of Kuwait became a source of tension between the royal family and the public until all operational US troops left the country in 2003. Major terrorist attacks in May and November 2003 spurred a strong on-going campaign against domestic terrorism and extremism. King ABDALLAH has continued the cautious reform program begun when he was crown prince. The king instituted an interfaith dialogue initiative in 2008 to encourage religious tolerance on a global level; in 2009, he reshuffled the cabinet, which led to more moderates holding ministerial and judicial positions, and appointed the first female to the cabinet. The 2010-11 uprising across Middle Eastern and North African countries sparked modest incidents in Saudi cities, predominantly by Shia demonstrators calling for the release of detainees and the withdrawal from Bahrain of the Gulf Cooperation Council's Peninsula Shield Force. Protests in general were met by a strong police presence, with some arrests, but not the level of bloodshed seen in protests elsewhere in the region. In response to the unrest, King ABDALLAH in February and March 2011 announced a series of benefits to Saudi citizens including funds to build affordable housing, salary increases for government workers, and unemployment benefits. To promote increased political participation, the government held elections nationwide in September 2011 for half the members of 285 municipal councils. Also in September, the king announced that women will be allowed to run for and vote in future municipal elections - first held in 2005 - and serve as full members of the advisory Consultative Council. The country remains a leading producer of oil and natural gas and holds more than 20% of the world's proven oil reserves. The government continues to pursue economic reform and diversification, particularly since Saudi Arabia's accession to the WTO in December 2005, and promotes foreign investment in the kingdom. A burgeoning population, aquifer depletion, and an economy largely dependent on petroleum output and prices are all ongoing governmental concerns.


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Economy - overview
Saudi Arabia has an oil-based economy with strong government controls over major economic activities. It possesses about one-fifth of the world's proven petroleum reserves, ranks as the largest exporter of petroleum, and plays a leading role in OPEC. The petroleum sector accounts for roughly 80% of budget revenues, 45% of GDP, and 90% of export earnings. Saudi Arabia is encouraging the growth of the private sector in order to diversify its economy and to employ more Saudi nationals. Diversification efforts are focusing on power generation, telecommunications, natural gas exploration, and petrochemical sectors. Almost 6 million foreign workers play an important role in the Saudi economy, particularly in the oil and service sectors, while Riyadh is struggling to reduce unemployment among its own nationals. Saudi officials are particularly focused on employing its large youth population, which generally lacks the education and technical skills the private sector needs. Riyadh has substantially boosted spending on job training and education, most recently with the opening of the King Abdallah University of Science and Technology - Saudi Arabia''s first co-educational university. As part of its effort to attract foreign investment, Saudi Arabia acceded to the WTO in December 2005 after many years of negotiations. The government has begun establishing six "economic cities" in different regions of the country to promote foreign investment and plans to spend $373 billion between 2010 and 2014 on social development and infrastructure projects to advance Saudi Arabia''s economic development.

Gdp (purchasing power parity) World Ranking: 24
$691.5 billion (2011 est.)
$647.6 billion (2010 est.)
$618.9 billion (2009 est.)
Note Data are in 2011 US dollars

Gdp (official exchange rate)
$577.6 billion (2011 est.)

Gdp - real growth rate World Ranking: 34
6.8% (2011 est.)
4.6% (2010 est.)
0.1% (2009 est.)

Gdp - per capita (ppp) World Ranking: 55
$24,500 (2011 est.)
$23,500 (2010 est.)
$23,200 (2009 est.)
Note Data are in 2011 US dollars

Gdp - composition by sector
Agriculture 2%
Industry 69.1%
Services 28.9% (2011 est.)

Labor force World Ranking: 62
7.63 million
About 80% of the labor force is non-national (2011 est.)

Labor force - by occupation
Agriculture 6.7%
Industry 21.4%
Services 71.9% (2005 est.)

Unemployment rate World Ranking: 117
10.9% (2011 est.)
10.8% (2010 est.)
Data are for Saudi males only (local bank estimates; some estimates range as high as 25%)

Population below poverty line

Household income or consumption by percentage share
Lowest 10% NA%
Highest 10% NA%

Investment (gross fixed) World Ranking: 108
19.1% of GDP (2011 est.)

Revenues $295.7 billion
Expenditures $214.3 billion (2011 est.)

Taxes and other revenues World Ranking: 17
51.2% of GDP (2011 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) World Ranking: 6
14.1% of GDP (2011 est.)

Public debt World Ranking: 129
13% of GDP (2011 est.)
16.5% of GDP (2010 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices) World Ranking: 127
5% (2011 est.)
5.4% (2010 est.)

Central bank discount rate
2.5% (31 December 2008)

Commercial bank prime lending rate World Ranking: 134
7.2% (31 December 2011 est.)
7.2% (31 December 2010 est.)

Stock of narrow money World Ranking: 18
$203 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
$166.8 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Stock of broad money World Ranking: 30
$330 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
$288.1 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Stock of domestic credit World Ranking: 128
$2.96 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
$2.693 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares World Ranking: 25
$338.9 billion (31 December 2011)
$353.4 billion (31 December 2010)
$318.8 billion (31 December 2009)

Agriculture - products
Wheat, barley, tomatoes, melons, dates, citrus; mutton, chickens, eggs, milk

Crude oil production, petroleum refining, basic petrochemicals, ammonia, industrial gases, sodium hydroxide (caustic soda), cement, fertilizer, plastics, metals, commercial ship repair, commercial aircraft repair, construction

Industrial production growth rate World Ranking: 24
8.4% (2011 est.)

Electricity - production World Ranking: 19
194.4 billion kWh (2009 est.)

Electricity - consumption World Ranking: 20
174.5 billion kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - exports
0 kWh (2009 est.)

Electricity - imports
0 kWh (2009 est.)

Oil - production World Ranking: 1
10.52 million bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - consumption World Ranking: 6
2.643 million bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - exports World Ranking: 1
7.635 million bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - imports World Ranking: 70
83,150 bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - proved reserves World Ranking: 1
262.6 billion bbl (1 January 2011 est.)

Natural gas - production World Ranking: 11
83.94 billion cu m (2010 est.)

Natural gas - consumption World Ranking: 9
83.94 billion cu m (2010 est.)

Natural gas - exports World Ranking: 173
0 cu m (2010 est.)

Natural gas - imports World Ranking: 123
0 cu m (2010 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves World Ranking: 4
7.807 trillion cu m (1 January 2011 est.)

Current account balance World Ranking: 3
$144.2 billion (2011 est.)
$66.75 billion (2010 est.)

Exports World Ranking: 15
$359.9 billion (2011 est.)
$251.1 billion (2010 est.)

Exports - commodities
Petroleum and petroleum products 90%

Exports - partners
Japan 13.9%, China 13.7%, US 13.4%, South Korea 10.2%, India 7.2%, Singapore 4.9% (2011)

Imports World Ranking: 32
$117.4 billion (2011 est.)
$97.43 billion (2010 est.)

Imports - commodities
Machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, chemicals, motor vehicles, textiles

Imports - partners
China 12.8%, US 11.9%, Germany 7.1%, South Korea 6%, Japan 5.6%, India 5.3%, Italy 4.1% (2011)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold World Ranking: 4
$541.1 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
$445.1 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Debt - external World Ranking: 43
$105.9 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
$85.01 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home World Ranking: 22
$214.7 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
$187.7 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad World Ranking: 46
$18.16 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
$14.29 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Exchange rates
Saudi riyals (SAR) per US dollar -
3.75 (2011 est.)
3.75 (2010 est.)
3.75 (2009)
3.75 (2008)
3.745 (2007)

Fiscal year
Calendar year


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  Saudi Arabia (Riyadh):

  GPS points from Saudi Arabia (Riyadh)

Safara Mintaqat Jizan

Mishhaf Mintaqat Ar Riyad

Al Khursaniyah Al Mintaqah Ash Sharqiyah

Khashm Zuwayra' Saudi Arabia (general)

Irq El Juthum Al Mintaqah Ash Sharqiyah

Jibal Al Qa`idat Saudi Arabia (general)

Sha`ib Abu Sufayy Mintaqat Ar Riyad

`urayq Raghabah Mintaqat Ar Riyad
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