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Saudi Arabia

Asia


Introduction


Language

Official language
Arabic

T-index
0.69%

T-Index ranks countries according to their potential for online sales.

Actual languages
Tagalog, Rohingya, Urdu, Egyptian Arabic

English
Very low proficiency (EF) – 104 of 112 countries/regions in the world- 10/12 position in the Middle East.

Demography

Capital: Riyadh
Currency: Saudi riyal
Population: 35.34 m
Population density: 16 /km2

Economy

GDP: 833.54 billion USD (2021)
GDP per capita: 23,585.9 USD ‎(2021) ‎
Exports: $167 billion (2020)

Statistics

Internet users: 97.9% penetration, 34.84 million
Unemployment rate: 7.7% (2020)
Urbanisation: 83.84% (2019)
Literacy: 98% (2020)

Conventions

Numbering system
Arabic numericals are not used

Date format:  dd-mm-yyyy
Time: 24h time system
Country code: 00966


Language data sources: Worldatlas/Britannica//EF/Wikipedia; Demography data sources: IMF/Worldometers; Conventions data source: Wikipedia; Economy data sources: WTO/OEC/CIA/Esomar/Datareportal; Statistics data sources: Datareportal/WorldBank/UN/UNESCO/CEIC/IMF/Culturalatlas/Commisceoglobal


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Facts and data


Economy

Imports
$143 billion (2020).   Cars ($11.2B), Broadcasting Equipment ($5.5B), Refined Petroleum ($3.86B), Packaged Medicaments ($3.14B), and Telephones ($2.38B), importing mostly from China ($31.8B), United Arab Emirates ($18B), United States ($10.8B), Germany ($6.79B), and India ($6.37B).

Financial inclusion factors (over 15 years of  age)
• 72% have an account with a financial institution
• 16% have a credit card
• 39% make online purchases

Ease of doing business
Easy to conduct business (71.6 out of 100) 4th out of 20 Middle Eastern and Northern African countries 62nd worldwide out of 190 countries (2019, World Bank).

Global Innovation Index
Ranked 6th out of 19 Northern African and Western
Asian countries, 66th out of 132 worldwide.

The Global Innovation Index captures the innovation
ecosystem performance of 132 economies and tracks the most recent global innovation trends.

Exports
$167 billion (2020). Crude Petroleum ($95.7B), Refined Petroleum ($10.7B), Ethylene Polymers ($9.17B), Propylene Polymers ($5.28B), and Acyclic Alcohols ($3.22B), exporting mostly to China ($33.4B), India ($16.8B), Japan ($16.3B), South Korea ($14.4B), and United Arab Emirates ($9.21B).

Main local online stores
Souq.com, Haraj.com.sa and Amazon, Apple, Opensooq.com, AliExpress, Jarir.com, Extrastores.com, Alibaba and eBay.

Economic freedom
Moderately free’ (rated 55.5 out of 100) ranked 9th amongst 14 Middle Eastern countries ranked 118th out of 186 countries worldwide. (2019, Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal)


Economy data sources: WTO/OEC/CIA/Esomar/Datareportal


Service imports (2018)

Source: OEC


Service exports (2018)

Source: OEC


Most complex products by PCI Index

Product Complexity Index measures the knowledge intensity of a product by considering the knowledge intensity of its exporters

Source: OEC

Most specialised products by RCA Index

Specialisation is measured using Revealed Comparative Advantage, an index that takes the ratio between observed and expected exports in each product

Source: OEC

Export Opportunities by Relatedness

elatedness measures the distance between a country's current exports and each product, the barchart show only products that Saudi Arabia is not specialized in

Source: OEC


Popularity of payment methods for online shopping in Saudi Arabia in 2017, by type

Source: Ipsos


Media

Media main languages Arabic, English

Information channels
Saudi investors are major players in the pan-Arab TV industry but the domestic media are tightly controlled.

Criticism of the government and royal family and the questioning of Islamic tenets are not generally tolerated. Self-censorship is pervasive.

The state-run Saudi Broadcasting Authority operates almost all domestic broadcasting outlets. The minister of culture and information chairs the body which oversees radio and TV.

Private TVs cannot operate from Saudi soil, but the country is a major market for pan-Arab satellite and pay-TV. Saudi investors are behind UAE-based TV giants MBC and OSN. 

Saudi tycoon Prince Alwaleed bin Talal owns the Rotana entertainment media empire and has a stake in Twitter.

There are more than a dozen dailies. Pan-Arab papers, subject to censorship, are available. On sensitive stories, newspapers tend to follow the editorial lead of the state news agency.

The press law applies to all forms of electronic publishing.

The press

Al-Watan – Abha-based daily
Al-Riyadh – Riyadh-based daily
Okaz – Jeddah-based daily
Al-Jazirah – Riyadh-based daily
Al-Sharq – Riyadh-based daily
Al-Hayat – Saudi pan-Arab daily, based in London
Al-Sharq al-Awsat – Saudi pan-Arab daily, based in London, site in English
Arab News – Jeddah-based English-language daily
Saudi Gazette – Jeddah-based English-language daily

Television

Saudi TV – state-run; includes news network Al-Ikhbariya

Radio

Saudi Radio – state-run
MBC FM – private
Mix FM – private

News agency

Saudi Press Agency (SPA) – state-run, English-language pages
Elaph – Saudi-owned pan-Arab news site, based in London
Sabq – news site


Media data source: BBC


Share of preferred online payment methods among customers in Saudi Arabia as of 2018

Sources: Oxford Business Group; Payfort


Internet Data

Internet users
97.9% penetration, 34.84 million

Share of web traffic by device
71.87% mobile phones, 26.75% computers (laptops and desktops), 1.21 tablet devices and 0.18% other devices

Median speed of mobile Internet connection
91.06 Mbps

Median speed of fixed Internet connection
80.39 Mbps

Mobile connection as a percentage of total population: 115.3%

Percentage of mobile connections that are broadband (3G-5G):  94.8%

Most popular web search engines
Google (96.57%), Bing (1.8%), Petal Search (1%), Yandex (0.26%), Yahoo (0.22%), DuckDuckgo (0.13%)  

Most used social media
Facebook (71.94%),  Twitter (13.79%), YouTube (9.41%), Instagram (3.6%), Pinterest (0.97%), Tumblr (0.13%)


Internet data sources: Datareportal/Statcounter


Social statistics

Life expectancy
74.87 yrs (2020)

Average age of the population
31.8 yrs (2020)

Gender
There is a clear distinction between male and female roles in society. Although women have been increasingly assuming more leading roles both in career and business, certain jobs remain open only to men. This includes political, ministerial, diplomatic and high-level managerial positions, field work which requires mingling with men and some of the services jobs such as restaurant staff and flight attendants. Throughout the last decades, women have been given equal work opportunities particularly in the educational and medical field. Almost all educational institutions are segregated from elementary to university level. It is interesting to note that men and women working in the same profession are paid equally. According to Islamic “Sharee’ah” law, women have the full right to manage their financial possessions. Men are obliged to fully support their families regardless of the wife’s financial status. This explains why most companies limit their home ownership programme only to male employees.

Ethnicity
Saudi society is ethnically diverse. Those who come from the western province of the state generally descend from other ethnic origins such as Turkey, Indonesia, India, Yemen and the like. People of the southern part belong to the major Arabian Peninsula tribes. The central province contains the majority of Bedouins. The eastern province is known for its people from mainly “Shaits sector”. Discrimination based on family names and ethnic religious sectors existed in the past affecting career opportunities. Under the pluralism applied recently in Saudi Arabia, this has lessened to a large extent.

Graduates (tertiary education)
23% of GDP (2018)

Religion
Islam is the main religion in Saudi Arabia and the Islamic “Sharee’ah” governs all aspects of life including the legislation of civil laws. During the past three decades, the country has undergone a great deal of infrastructure developments as well as lifestyle changes. The movement of modernisation, however, is kept in compliance with Islamic Sharee’ah, being defined as suitable for all times and places. Most Saudis incorporate religious rituals into their daily lifestyle. Almost all workplaces assign a room for employees to perform their prayers. The timing of  noon “Dhohr” and afternoon “Asr” prayers coincides within work hours. Most employees are allowed to take prayer breaks, which is about 10-15 minutes per prayer. It’s not uncommon to see some supervisors and/or staff perform their prayers in a mosque if it happens to be located near a work location.

Class
Most Saudis fall within the upper and lower middle class. People of higher class have more influential social roles. Distinction among different classes is felt in a subtle way. 


Social statistics sources: WorldBank/UN/UNESCO/CEIC/IMF


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Photo credit: mohammad alashri, Unsplash