Saudi biggest Arab economy, Sudan most indebted

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Saudi Arabia's total GDP growth will be 2.4 percent in 2021, predicts IMF
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  • COVID-19 increased the average debt in Arab countries to 81.8 percent of its GDP in 2020, up from 69.4 percent in 2019.
  • Qatar has the highest GDP per capita in the Arab world due to its small population.

Despite adverse economic conditions such as the near-collapse of global oil markets, Saudi Arabia has emerged as one of the strongest economies in the Arab World.

Qatar, owing to its small population, had the highest per capita GDP in the Arab world, while Sudan’s record debt made it the most indebted economy in the region.

Saudi Arabia: Non-Oil Sector Expansion

Saudi Arabia’s GDP, which rose from US$ 701.5 billion in 2020, is likely to hit to US$ 804.9 billion by the end of 2021.

IMF confirmed in early July that the Saudi economy is recovering “well” from the Coronavirus pandemic, estimating that the country’s non-oil economy will grow by 4.3 percent this year and total GDP growth will be 2.4 percent.

However, it predicted that real oil GDP would fall by 0.4 percent, as production is expected to remain consistent with the “OPEC +” agreement. In addition, the annual inflation average is expected to reach 3.2 percent in 2021.

UAE ranks second

The UAE came in second place with a GDP of $354.3 billion in 2020 and which is expected to reach $401.5 billion in 2021. IMF forecasts 3.1 percent growth in the UAE’s real GDP this year, following a 5.9 percent contraction last year.

Egypt ranked third, with its GDP expected to reach $394.3 billion by the end of 2021, a 2.8 percent increase. Iraq ranked fourth for the second year in a row, with $190.7 billion in 2021 and $ 172.119 billion in 2020, while Qatar ranked fifth this year as well, with a gross domestic product of $166 billion in 2021, up from $146.1 billion in 2020.

Qatar: The highest GDP per capita

Qatar has the highest GDP per capita in the Arab world due to its small population, and it is expected to rise 13.5 percent to $59,000 thousand in 2021, according to IMF estimates, up from $52,000 last year.

UAE was second in terms of GDP, which is expected to increase by 10 percent this year to $35,200, up from $31900 last year. Kuwait was ranked third, followed by Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Iraq.

It is estimated that Iraq’s per capita GDP will rise by 7 percent this year to $4600, up from $4300 in 2020.

Jordan was ranked eighth, followed by Egypt in ninth place. IMF expects its per capita GDP to rise to $3830 in the fiscal year 2021, which ended on June 30, a 6.8 percent increase from $3580 in the previous year.

Sudan: The most indebted

The COVID-19 pandemic increased the average debt in Arab countries to 81.8 percent of its GDP in 2020, up from 69.4 percent in 2019.

Expectations reveal that this year will witness a gradual decline of up to 74 percent, except for Libya, West Bank, Gaza, and Syria, due to the unavailability of data.

Sudan topped the ranking of the most indebted Arab countries for 2021, despite the decline in its total debt to 211.7 percent of GDP, compared to the record it reached last year at 262.5 percent of GDP. Sudan is the only Arab country with a total debt of more than 200 percent of its GDP, a level it reached for the first time in 2019 when it recorded 200.3 percent.

Bahrain debts dip 

International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates show that debt as a percentage of GDP in Bahrain has decreased from 132.8 percent in 2020 to 129.4 percent this year. On the other hand, Lebanon’s total debt will rise to 93 percent of GDP by 2021, compared to 154.5 percent in 2020.

According to the recent figures, Egypt ranked fourth, with total debt increasing to 92.8 percent of GDP, compared to 90.2 percent last year. Tunisia ranks fifth with debts that will increase to 91.2 percent of GDP from 87.6 percent in 2020, slightly ahead of Jordan, whose debts are 91.17 percent this year, compared to 88.5 percent last year.

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