Saudi Arabia’s personal wealth grew to its highest level in 2006 after a surge in oil prices and is expected to become even richer in 2007.
Official figures showed the Kingdom’s per capita income, which is calculated by dividing the gross domestic product by the population, swelled to a record SR55,216 (Dh54,375) in 2006 after the GDP surged by nearly 10.5 per cent and the population grew by only 2.5 per cent.
The surge in the GDP in 2006 was mainly due to a sharp rise in the country’s income that hit a record $165 billion (Dh605bn) after oil prices soared to more than $60 a barrel from around $52 in 2005, showed the figures by the Saudi Arabia Monetary Agency (Central Bank).
Experts expect the Kingdom’s per capita income in 2007 to exceed the 2006 level as the economy was projected to growth at least seven per cent while the population was to maintain its 2.5 per cent growth rate.
“The per capita income in Saudi Arabia is expected to be at its highest level in current prices in 2007,” said Ihsan Bu Hulaiga, a Saudi economist. “This is because the economy is growing much faster than the population and due to a sharp rise in oil prices and public and private investments.”
Independent figures showed high oil prices in 2007 were expected to boost Saudi Arabia’s revenues to a record $176bn and they would continue their climb to nearly $190bn in 2008.
The price surge and growth in non-oil sectors pushed up the country’s GDP by around 10.5 per cent to SR1.307 trillion (Dh1.28trn) in 2006 from nearly SR1.182trn (Dh1.156trn) in 2005, according to Sama.
Its figures showed the per capita income stood at SR51,169 (Dh50,060) in 2005 and the population at 23.11 million, which grew to about 23.68 million in 2006, an increase of 2.5 per cent.
The per capita income tumbled to as low as SR28,033 (Dh27,571) in 1998 after oil prices plunged to one of their lowest levels of nearly $10 a barrel and the Kingdom’s crude production was below six million barrels per day compared with nearly nine million bpd in 2006.
Despite the surge over the past two years, Saudi Arabia lagged far behind smaller Gulf countries given their lower population ratios.