CHAPTER 4
Economy

OVERVIEW

Saudi Arabia’s economic productivity is largely based on its sale of petroleum and its by-products, which have made it the largest and strongest economy in the Middle East region. Oil income impacted the nation’s development, enabling numerous areas of expansion and subsidies. Simultaneously, the oil industry has complicated Saudi Arabia’s foreign relations, domestic policies, and global impact. Since oil profits had to be invested and the entire country developed with a view toward the future, when oil may be depleted, the government and individual investors likewise encountered various conditions that both advanced and restricted their goals.

Saudi Arabia has been diversifying its industrial output and spending on human capital in education and training toward these goals. It has experimented technologically with agriculture, sometimes despite strong external criticism because of the cost of certain projects. All countries present unique ratios of labor and arable land. In some cases, they amass capital from valuable resources moving from a peripheral to a semi-peripheral status in the world economy (Wallerstein 1974). Saudi Arabia has dealt with its labor deficit (in the period prior to strong population growth) by importing workers from the Arab and non-Arab developing world and also from the West.

Western scholars and observers were critical of Saudi Arabia’s centralized economic planning and state subsidies in decades past for different reasons. Supporters of economic liberalism argued that state subsidies can heighten debt (although Saudi Arabia could afford such measures, whereas some countries arguably could not) and increase dependence on the state. Some aspects of their critiques emanate from the

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Saudi Arabia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • About the Author xi
  • Preface xiii
  • Acknowledgments xvii
  • Chapter 1 - Geography 1
  • Chapter 2 - History 17
  • Chapter 3 - Government and Politics 79
  • Chapter 4 - Economy 137
  • Chapter 5 - Society 175
  • Chapter 6 - Culture 245
  • Chapter 7 - Contemporary Issues 355
  • Glossary 385
  • Facts and Figures 399
  • Major Saudi Arabian Holidays 415
  • Country-Related Organizations 419
  • Annotated Bibliography 445
  • Thematic Index 495
  • Index 519
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