Saudi Arabia’s non-oil economy grows at fastest pace in six years

Gulf oil exporting economies have started 2020 with an uncertain outlook. (File/AFP)
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Updated 07 March 2020

Saudi Arabia’s non-oil economy grows at fastest pace in six years

  • Most of the increase in output was driven by the retail, hotel and financial sectors
  • GDP growth to 0.3 percent according to data released on Sunday by Saudi Arabia's General Authority for Statistics

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s non-oil economy grew by 3.3 percent last year, its fastest rate since 2014, even as the energy sector contracted and slowed overall growth.

Most of the increase in output was driven by the retail, hotel and financial sectors, which are attracting increased investment as the Kingdom moves away from dependence on oil revenues. The oil sector declined by 3.6 percent in 2019 dragging overall GDP growth to 0.3 percent according to data released on Sunday by Saudi Arabia's General Authority for Statistics.

"The weakness in the real headline GDP growth was due to the construction in the oil sector," Monica Malik, chief economist at Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, told Arab News.

"Positively, non-oil activity expanded at the fastest pace since 2014 thanks to a strengthening in non-oil growth. We believe that higher investment growth will remain a key support factor for non-oil activity in 2020 with greater progress with key projects."

FASTFACT

SR2.97

Saudi GDP at current prices amounted to SR2.974 trillion in 2019.

Saudi GDP at current prices amounted to SR2.974 trillion in 2019 - up by about 0.8 percent from a year earlier.

Crude petroleum and natural gas accounted for some 27.4 percent of the Kingdom's economic output, followed by government services at 19.4 percent. Wholesale and retail trade, restaurants and hotels made up the third largest contributor to GDP, accounting for a 10 percent share.

Weaker oil demand globally hit the Kingdom's exports in 2019 which were down by about 10.4 percent in value over the year to about SR1.05 trillion.

Gulf oil exporting economies have started 2020 with an uncertain outlook as oil markets again come under pressure from the spread of the coronavirus beyond China - hitting demand for crude oil and aviation fuel as people stay at home and factories reduce production.

Still, Saudi Arabia is hoping its plans to boost gas production in the Kingdom could help offset the impact from lower oil prices.

The country expects the recently disclosed Jafurah field to be a major contributor to GDP growth over the coming decades.

Holding an estimated 200 trillion cubic feet of wet gas, it could generate $8.6 billion a year in income and contribute $20 billion a year to the Kingdom’s GDP.


Arab News recording exposes Nissan lawyer’s lie on IMF bailout for Lebanon

Updated 01 June 2020

Arab News recording exposes Nissan lawyer’s lie on IMF bailout for Lebanon

LONDON: Arab News has published the recording of an interview with a Nissan lawyer after he denied saying that a bailout of Lebanon by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was linked to the extradition of fugitive tycoon Carlos Ghosn.

The former Nissan chairman fled to Beirut in December from Japan, where he faced charges of financial wrongdoing.

In a story published in Arab News Japan on Saturday, Sakher El Hachem, Nissan’s legal representative in Lebanon, said the multibillion-dollar IMF bailout was contingent on Ghosn being handed back to Japan. 

The lawyer said IMF support for Lebanon required Japan’s agreement. Lebanese officials had told him: “Japan will assist Lebanon if Ghosn gets extradited,” the lawyer said

“For Japan to agree on that they want the Lebanese authorities to extradite Ghosn, otherwise they won’t provide Lebanon with financial assistance. Japan is one of the IMF’s major contributors … if Japan vetoes Lebanon then the IMF won’t give Lebanon money, except after deporting Ghosn.”

On Sunday, El Hachem denied making the comments. “The only thing I told the newspaper was that there should have been a court hearing on April 30 in Lebanon, but it was postponed because of the pandemic,” he said. In response, Arab News published the recording of the interview, in which he can be clearly heard making the statements attributed to him. 

Japan issued an arrest warrant after Ghosn, 66, escaped house arrest and fled the country.

Now listen to the recording: