Saudi Arabia, the biggest Arab economy, is leading moves toward political and economic cooperation, which it believes would give the mostly Sunni-led monarchies of the Gulf more power to withstand any confrontation with Shi’ite Iran.
Saudi Arabia has ambitious plans to further expand its lucrative automobile industry. In 2011 alone, the Kingdom announced the sale of approximately 800,000 cars potentially increasing to 1 million vehicles per year by the end of the current decade.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, has identified mining as a key investment area after oil and petrochemicals, and is spending an estimated $38 billion to develop two cities centered around mining.
“Nitaqat represents an effort to introduce more incentives for companies to employ Saudis and in that sense it is an improvement on what went before,” says James Reeve, an economist at the local Samba Financial Group.
The countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have a low population compared with other regions, totaling 45 million people in 2011, less than 1 percent of the global population, a recently published report read.
Jadwa Investment’s recently released June inflation report found year-on-year inflation for Saudi Arabia eased again in June, slipping to 4.9 percent from 5.1 percent in May, the first time it has been below 5 percent since August 2011.
Saudi Arabia is venturing into a territory normally reserved for automakers. The kingdom is developing the Ghazal, a sport-utility vehicle for the hazards of the desert, to diversify its economy beyond oil.