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Saudi population growth has slowed markedly
Bahrain, 26th March 2001

    The Saudi population growth rate has slowed down and this trend is bound to have an impact on economic planning. A recent survey had shown that the Saudi population growth, which  reached one of the highest in the world, has slowed markedly, though it still remains higher than the global average and exceeds the growth rate of Saudi real GDP.

  The total population of Saudi Arabia, which  stood at 3.2 million in the early 1950s, increased to 16.95 million in 1992 before reaching 19.90 million in  1999. The average annual growth rate of the population was 2.5 per cent between 1992 and 1999, compared with 3.5 per cent for the decade prior to that. An analysis of the estimates of the recent demographic sample survey, conducted by the Saudi planning ministry, revealed that this growth trend is bound to have a profound influence on the country's economic planning.

  The last population census in Saudi Arabia was conducted in 1992. Analyzing the report, Dammam-based Saudi Commerce and Economic Review pointed out that the exceptional economic circumstances which prevailed in the latter half of the 1970s were followed by a period of two fluctuations in oil prices resulting in wide swings in income and lifestyle.
Consequently, the population growth rate has since come down.

  According to the survey, while the total non-Saudi population grew by an annual average of 1.2 per cent during the 1992-1999 period, the figure for the Saudi population was 2.9 per cent.
  The share of Saudis in the total population went up during the last decade. The proportion of Saudis in the total population rose from 72.6 per cent in 1992 to 74.8 per cent in 1999, while the share of the expatriate population fell from 27.4 per cent to 25.2 per cent during this period.

  It also disclosed that a large part of the expatriate male population belongs to the illiterate or semi illiterate and unskilled groups, with the major segment engaged in low income jobs. In the process of Saudization, educated groups of workers have increasingly been sent back home to give employment opportunities to educated Saudi youth. Dealing with the population trends, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) stated that the bulk of the non-Saudis who hold lower qualifications are laborers, and this represents one of the most prominent and serious challenges to Saudi Labour markets.

In fact, this is not in keeping with the Saudi Labour market's need for highly qualified educated workers with proper technical and vocational expertise. What is currently happening is that the services of a lot of qualified expatriates, mainly from traditional sources of manpower such as Egypt, India and Pakistan are being dispensed with in the private sector industries and services to give opportunities to the local youth.

The result would naturally have been a fall in the numerical strength of the expatriate population. But this has not happened because this phenomenon has been somewhat offset by the larger import of Labour from countries like Bangladesh in the cleaning sector, and housemaids from countries like Indonesia and Sri Lanka. The structure and pattern of the expatriate population have thus been transformed in a perceptible manner, stated the SAMA report.

Source: Gulf News®

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26 March 2001 02:22:02 PM

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