saudiarabiaThe Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the largest Arab country located in Western Asia. It is bordered in the west by the Red Sea, and by the Persian Gulf in the east. Saudi Arabia’s population is over 28 million, and the name of its capital is Riyadh. There are hundreds of thousands of foreign workers in the country. The Kingdom has the world’s second largest oil reserves and the world’s sixth largest natural gas reserves. Saudi Arabia has well-developed infrastructure, and is globally considered as one of the few fast growing countries with high per capita income. The Kingdom has been a generous donor for several multi-lateral development organizations. The cities of Mecca and Medina, which are considered as holiest Islamic cities are located in Saudi Arabia, and as such, the country enjoys an extreme respect among the Muslims all over the world.

Context

Context

The Kingdom is administratively divided into 13 provinces. Each province has a capital, which enjoys the status of municipality and is headed by a mayor. Provinces are sub-divided into 118 governorates, which are further sub-divided into sub-governorates.

Saudi Arabia’s landscape comprises vast deserts, dry mountains, a central plateau, shrubs, and patches of fertile land in oases and basins. There are no permanent rivers or lakes. The climate is typically desert, with extremely high temperatures during the day and very low during the night. Yearly rainfall is nominal, but lately some deadly flash floods caused by heavy rains have been observed.

Although Saudi Arabia’s economy is essentially petroleum-based, the government has spent billions of dollars on developing and modernizing its agricultural sector in spite of desert conditions and severe water constraint. Although at great expense yet some truly impressive agricultural breakthroughs have been made in the Kingdom. The country that was importing most of its food till 1977, not only achieved self-sufficiency in food, but also started exporting commodities like wheat, dates, watermelon, poultry, fresh eggs and milk. That does not mean, however, that all food and beverage imports, which reportedly run in billions of dollars, have been totally halted. Major crops grown in Saudi Arabia include cereals (wheat, sorghum, barley and millet), vegetables (tomato, watermelon, eggplant, potato, cucumber and onions), fruits (dates, citrus and grapes), and the forage crop of alfalfa. Recently, some initiatives have been taken to promote organic agriculture. Exceptionally high expenditure incurred on enormous agricultural interventions in the Saudi Arabia’s desert eco-system and their long-term environmental impact remain a cause of concern for economists and environmentalists, underlining the need for vigilant monitoring and meaningful evaluation studies.

Key Statistics and Indicators

Indicator

Value

Year  

Agricultural land (sq. km)

Agricultural land (% of land area)

Arable land (hectares)

Arable land (% of land area)

Arable land (hectares per person)

1,733,550

80.64

3,110,000

1.44

0.11

2011

2011

2011

2011

2011

Fertilizer consumption (kg per hectare of arable land)

94.11

2010

Agriculture, value added (% of GDP)

Food production index (2004-2006 = 100)

Food exports (% of merchandise exports)

Food imports (% of merchandise imports)

2.24

110.47

0.91

15.18

2012

2011

2011

2011

GNI per capita, Atlas method (current US$)

21,210

2011

Literacy rate, adult total (% of people ages 15 and above)

Literacy rate, youth female (% of females ages 15-24)

Literacy rate, youth male (% of males ages 15-24)

Ratio of young literate females to males (% ages 15-24)

Ratio of female to male secondary enrollment (%)

87.15

97.00

98.99

97.99

97.55

2011

2011

2011

2011

2012

Mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people)

Internet users (per 100 people)

184.67

54

2012

2012

Population, total

Population density (people per sq. km of land area)

Rural population

Rural population (% of total population)

Agricultural population (% of total population)*

Total economically active population

Total economically active population in agriculture*

Total economically active population in agriculture (in %

    of total economically active population)

Female economically active population in agriculture (% of

     total economically active population in agriculture)*

28,287,855

12.91

4,951,506

17.50

1.82

10,382,733

515,000

4.96

0.27

2012

2011

2012

2012

2011

2012

2010

2011

2010

Sources: The World Bank, *Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations FAO

Acknowledgements

  • Authored by M. Kalim Qamar (January 2014)
  • Edited by Burton E. Swanso

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