Arab population hits 367 million

The combined population of the Arab countries totalled around 367 million this month, nearly 5.2 per cent of the world’s population, official data showed.

The population in the region has recorded one of the world’s highest growth rates, ranging from 2.5 to 2.7 per cent during 1975 and 2000 and maintaining its rapid rise over the previous decade, the Cairo-based Arab League said.

At the end of 2000, the Arab population stood at around 284 million, which means there was an increase of nearly 83 million in just over 10 years, an average of about eight million per year, the report showed.

“The world’s total population is expected to hit seven billion this week and we expected the population in the Arab world to be around 367.4 million, nearly 5.2 per cent of the world’s people,” Arab League secretary general Nabil Al Arabi said in Cairo after releasing the report this week.

He gave no breakdown for member states but a previous official report showed Egypt remained the most populous nation in the region at the end of 2009.

The report put the UAE’s population at around 5.066 million at the end of 2009, up by nearly 6.32 per cent over the population of 4.865 million at the end of 2008.

High growth rates were also recorded in other Gulf oil producers given their heavy reliance on foreign labour.

In Qatar, which is recording the highest economic growth rates in the region, the population jumped by nearly 13.19 per cent to 1.638 million at the end of 2009 from around 1.448 million at the end of 2008, the report showed.

Kuwait’s population grew by 6.23 per cent to 3.657 million from 3.442 million while Bahrain recorded a growth of 8.17 per cent to 1.215 million compared with nearly 1.123 million in the same period.

Saudi Arabia, the largest Arab economy, registered growth of about 2.28 million to 25.3 million compared with 24.8 million.

The report showed Egypt remained the most populated Arab nation, with its people increasing by around 2.17 per cent to 76.8 million from 75.19 million.

Other members with high population are Sudan with around 39.17 million at the end of 2009, Algeria with 35.2 million, Morocco with 31.51 million, Iraq with 35.50 million, Yemen with about 22.8 million and Tunisia with 10.4 million.

Djibouti had the smallest population in the region, standing at around 895,000, according to the report, which gave no figures for occupied Palestine.

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