Saudi Arabia Set to Become World’s Fastest-Growing Major Economy in 2023

The Saudi economy is witnessing rapid growth, according to reports issued by international agencies (Asharq Al-Awsat)
The Saudi economy is witnessing rapid growth, according to reports issued by international agencies (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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Saudi Arabia Set to Become World’s Fastest-Growing Major Economy in 2023

The Saudi economy is witnessing rapid growth, according to reports issued by international agencies (Asharq Al-Awsat)
The Saudi economy is witnessing rapid growth, according to reports issued by international agencies (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Saudi Arabia is set to overtake India as the fastest-growing major economy in 2023 after the latter lost growth due to weak demand at home and abroad.

The Kingdom’s real gross domestic product grew by 8.8 % in the third quarter of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021, driven by an increase in oil activities, according to a report released by the General Authority for Statistics (GASTAT).

According to Bloomberg, Saudi Arabia is expected to outpace India with 7.6% gross domestic product growth in 2023.

This follows a 6.8% expansion forecast by the Reserve Bank of India, made by the end of March 2022.

Last December, the Saudi Cabinet approved the state’s general budget for the fiscal year 2023.

The budget covers total spending at SAR 1.114 trillion ($297 billion) and expects revenues estimated at SAR 1.130 trillion ($301 billion), producing a surplus of 16 billion riyals ($4.2 billion).

According to a report by the GASTAT, oil activities in the third quarter increased 14.2 percent year-on-year, and 4.5 percent quarter-on-quarter.

The report further pointed out that non-oil activities in the Kingdom also grew 6 % year-on-year.

Government activities also rose by 2.5 % in the third quarter compared to the same period a year ago.

GASTAT's report further noted that crude petroleum and natural gas grew by 14.8 % year-on-year, thus contributing 35.2 % to the national GDP.

“The non-oil economic activities outside the government contributed with a share of 50.7 % to GDP, with the manufacturing (excluding petroleum refining) with a share of 7.8 % being the most important sub-category within the non-oil economy,” the report said.

According to GASTAT, Saudi GDP at current prices amounted to SAR 1.036 trillion in the third quarter of 2022.

By generating 35.2% of Saudi GDP, crude oil and natural gas activities achieved the highest contribution among all other economic activities. This was followed by government services at 14.1%.



Lebanon Tourism Season Revives Economic Outlook

People are seen at the arrival lounge at Beirut International Airport, Lebanon. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
People are seen at the arrival lounge at Beirut International Airport, Lebanon. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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Lebanon Tourism Season Revives Economic Outlook

People are seen at the arrival lounge at Beirut International Airport, Lebanon. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
People are seen at the arrival lounge at Beirut International Airport, Lebanon. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

The surge in visitors to Lebanon during Eid al-Adha and high demand for summer concert bookings are boosting hopes for a revival in tourism.

This sector is crucial for reigniting positive economic growth after about nine months of challenging conditions due to the Gaza war and subsequent border clashes between Hezbollah and Israel in southern Lebanon.

Contrary to earlier fears this month of possible Israeli strikes inside Lebanon, Ali Hamieh, caretaker Minister of Public Works and Transport, reported a daily average of 14,000 arrivals at Beirut’s Rafic Hariri International Airport, with numbers on the rise.

Jean Abboud, President of the Association of Travel and Tourism Agents, confirmed that despite initial concerns, booking rates have bounced back to 90-95% after Israeli threats of a mid-month strike. Most arrivals are Lebanese expatriates and foreign workers.

Before the summer season’s anticipated surge, Lebanon saw a 5.37% decrease in arrivals, with air traffic down by 9.34% and passenger numbers at Beirut International Airport dropping by 6.84% in the first five months of this year, totaling 2.29 million travelers compared to 2.46 million last year.

These declines were linked to the border clashes.

Lebanon’s tourism sector, generating over $5 billion annually in recent years, ranks as the country’s second most vital revenue stream after expatriate remittances, which officially approach $7 billion.

Together, they contribute more than half of Lebanon’s national income, which has dropped sharply from about $55 billion to under $22 billion due to the ongoing financial and currency crises that erupted five years ago.

Despite significant losses during peak tourism seasons like Christmas, Easter, and Eid al-Fitr, a report by Bank Audi indicated that Lebanon’s tourism revenues lost over $1 billion in the first six months of the Gaza conflict, driven by a 24% drop in tourist arrivals.

On average, tourists spend around $3,000 during their stay in Lebanon.