Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is a desert country that includes most of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf (Arabian). Cradle of Islam, the country includes the 2 most sacred mosques of this religion: the Masjid al- Harâm, in Mecca, destination of the annual pilgrimage of the Hajj, and the Al-Masjid Al-Nabawi, in Medina, where rests the prophet Mohammed.

General presentation

Official name: Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Form of government: absolute dynastic monarchy
Area: 2,253,000 km2
Capital: Riyadh
Main cities: Jeddah, Mecca, Medina, Dammam, Al Khobar,
Dahran, Taif, Tabouk
Official language: Arabic

National holiday: September 23

Population: 32.9 million, of which more than 37% of the population is foreign (UN ECOSOC, 2017)
Density: 15.3 people per km2
Population growth: 2%
Literacy rate: 87% (UNICEF 2015)
Source: Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs

Economic situation

The Emirati economy shrank by 6.1% in 2020, the first recession since 2009. It has been weakened primarily by the collapse of oil prices, while the majority of the government’s revenue is based on hydrocarbons. Representing 32% of GDP, the oil sector is the main driver of the economy. In recent years, it has maintained sustained growth (+2.5% in 2018 and +2.6% in 2019, against 0.7% and 3.8% for non-oil activity). The Emirates hold 5.6% of proven oil reserves (98bn barrels, 8th in the world) and 3% of gas reserves (5900bn m3, 8th in the world). At the end of 2019, crude oil production reached 3.1 mb/d but slowed to average 2.8 mb under the OPEC+ agreement in 2020 (2.7 mb/d in August 2021). In total, the sector’s contribution to GDP fell by 6.3% in 2020. In the medium term, hydrocarbons will nonetheless benefit from ADNOC’s USD 122 billion investment program announced at the end of November, which aims to increase and diversify oil (with the objective of reaching a production capacity of 5 Mb/d by 2030) and gas production.
The pandemic has also hit non-oil activity hard, which is mainly based on services (tourism, real estate, distribution, air and sea transport), with Dubai at the forefront. The non-oil sector thus recorded a 6.2% recession in 2020. The construction sector fell by 3.9% over the year. In the hotel sector, occupancy fell in the first few months of 2020 but rose from the end of the year, supported by Dubai’s #WorldCoolestWinter campaign. It reached 62% in H1 2021 (+15% y/y).
Source: DGT

Bilateral Relations

Bilateral investment treaties

Work in process

Double taxation agreements

Work in process

Free trade agreements

Work in process

Leading sector for Swiss companies

Work in process


201620172018 E2019 E
GDP (in billions of USD) 644.94686.74769.88795.58
GDP per capita (USD)20 318210962318723.491
Growth rate1.7%0.1%2.2%2.4%
Unemployment rate5.6%5.6%
Inflation rate2%-0.9%2,6%2%
Public debt (% of GDP)13.09317.20619.39020436
Budget balance (% of GDP)-9-3.9
Current account balance (% of GDP)-

(Sources FMI, Banque Mondiale)

Main customers

2018: China 3.3%, USA 2.8%, Singapore 1.4%, India 1.2%, Belgium 0.8%
Source: IMF

Main suppliers

2018: China 16.5%, USA 13.3%, EU 8.9%, Germany 5.4, % India 4.2%
Source: IMF

Swiss exports to

Work in process

Exports of …. to Switzerland

Work in process

Swiss direct investment in

Work in process

The business climate

Work in process