Arab World


17. Arabia Saudi > Manufacturing, Mining and Services

Council of Saudi Chambers of Commerce and Industry, URL:
Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, URL:
Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, URL:




Saudi Arabia has the largest reserves of oil, and is the largest producer and exporter of oil in the world. The oil wells are situated on the Persian Gulf, and are worked mainly by Saudi Aramco, formerly the Arabian-American Oil Company, and the General Petroleum and Minerals Organization (Petromin). In recent years, Saudi Arabia has directed its energies away from the production of medium and heavy crudes in favour of lighter crudes such as Arab Super Light and Extra Light.

Proven oil reserves, as at 1 January 2007, were 267 billion barrels (25 per cent of the world's total). In 2008, including the Saudi-Kuwaiti Neutral Zone, the Kingdom produced approximately 10.7 million barrels of oil per day (of which 9.2 million barrels per day was crude oil) and exported 8.4 million barrels per day. As of 1 January 2007, the country had a crude oil refining capacity of 2.1 million barrels per day. In 2001 new oil reserves were discovered in the northern region. The new well produced 1,100 barrels per day. Saudi Arabia announced it wished to increase its oil production to 12 million barrels per day by 2009.

In 2008, total oil production was 9,261.25 thousand bbl/d. Consumption was estimated at 2,297 thousand bbl/d.

There are also large reserves of natural gas; 240 trillion cubic feet in 2008 (this includes half of the Saudi-Kuwaiti Neutral Zone). In 2008 Saudi Arabia produced and consumed 2.680 billion cubic feet of natural gas. In 2001, Saudi Aramco discovered reserves of gas in the Almazaleej area, north of Riyadh. The new well produced 21.9 million cubic feet of gas per day. (Source: EIA)

Mining is an important part of the diversification of the economy. Gold is being mined and other minerals have been found such as phosphates, iron ore, copper, lead, tin, bauxite and various other precious and non-precious metals. To improve their mining capability and so lessen economic dependence on oil, Saudi Arabia offers such incentives as 30 year extraction concessions and 5-10 year tax holidays for foreign investors in this field.

In 2001 sales of petrochemicals, fertilizers and processed minerals reached US$7.2bn.

Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco), URL:
Arab Petroleum Investments Corporation, URL:


As of 2006, the country had an estimated electric generating capacity of 33 gigawatts, and produced 169 billion kWh per annum. It is estimated that domestic electricity demands have increased by 4 per cent every year. In 2006, consumption was 156 billion kWh. The electricity sector is controlled by four state-owned companies: Saudi Consolidated Company (SCECO) South, West, East and Central, the last of which has invited bids (as of July 1997) for the expansion by 300 MW of the 450 MW Al-Quassim power plant. In 2000 the possibility of privatising the electricity sector was under consideration. The government wants to double its capacity by 2020 to meet the needs of a growing population and increased industry. All electricity production in Saudi Arabia is thermal.


In order to develop a non-oil industrial sector the government has concentrated on establishing industries which use petroleum and minerals. Cement and fertilizer are both produced Eight industrial cities have been built, such as Jubail (15 major plants and 30,000 workers), and Yanbu, although there are no Free Trade Zones. Products are sold on the international market or used to produce consumer goods. Recent figures show that Saudi Arabia has over 3,500 factories operating.


Figures for 2006 show that Saudi Arabia had 8.6 million visitors; a large number of these were pilgrims to Mecca. The proposed railway line linking Mecca with the pilgrim destinations of Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah should further increase tourist numbers.


Due to the desert nature of the country, there is not a great deal of agriculture in Saudi Arabia; wheat and barley are grown in the Nejd (central plateau), and there is some export of dates. In recent years Saudi Arabia has been able to export some of its wheat crop to more needy countries. The main agricultural occupation is raising and exporting camels, horses and sheep, as well as exporting hides and wool. Honey, clarified butter and fruit are also produced. Agricultural production has greatly increased in recent years with the demand for previously imported products, such as eggs and dairy products, being met locally. The infrastructure of roads, storage facilities and irrigation networks has been improved which had meant a large improvement in the agriculture sector. The following table shows agricultural production in 2004:

Agricultural Produce in 2007


Int. $'000


Indigenous chicken meat









Cow milk, whole



Hen eggs






Indigenous sheep meat



Vegetables fresh






Citrus fruit



  • Source: FAOSTAT, Statistics Division, Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN

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