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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 26 February 2021

Unemployment rate among Saudi nationals falls in third quarter

The overall unemployment level dripped 0.5%, but joblessness among women dipped by 1.2%

Saudi Arabia will push back an opening date for its ports following the delay of coronavirus vaccines. Shuttershock
Saudi Arabia will push back an opening date for its ports following the delay of coronavirus vaccines. Shuttershock

The rate of unemployment among Saudi Arabian citizens dropped by 0.5 per cent during the third quarter as the Arab world's largest economy began to reopen following the easing of movement restrictions.

Figures from the General Authority for Statistics showed unemployment eased to 14.9 per cent among the kingdom's citizens. The unemployment rate among Saudi males dropped 0.2 per cent to 7.9 per cent and among females it fell 1.2 per cent to 30.2 per cent.

Overall unemployment in the kingdom dropped 5 per cent to 8.5 per cent.

The participation rate of Saudi nationals in the workforce edged up to 49 per cent, from 48.8 per cent in the prior quarter, the data showed.

Saudi Arabia's economy will continue to recover this year, but "with oil output being ramped up only gradually and fiscal policy to remain tight, the recovery is likely to be slower than in the other Gulf states", London-based Capital Economics said in a note on Friday.

The kingdom plans to spend 990 billion riyals ($264bn) next year, 7.5 per cent less than in 2020, and its fiscal deficit is set to narrow to 4.9 per cent of gross domestic product, King Salman bin Abdulaziz said when approving its 2021 budget last month. It is forecasting growth of 3.2 per cent this year.

Saudi Arabia is set to see a pickup in economic activity once virus containment measures are eased, especially once international travel resumes at the end of March and pilgrimages return to full capacity, Capital Economics said.

It forecasts a more rapid recovery in Gulf states than in the wider Mena region, with the UAE benefiting from a rapid rollout of vaccines, rising oil output and Expo 2020.

"The global rollout of vaccines should see more tourists return and there will be a further boost when Dubai hosts the World Expo later in the year," Capital Economics said.

Credit conditions in the Emirates are expected to tighten, though, as pandemic-related business failures lead to an increase in the amount of non-performing loans held on lenders' books.

Published: January 23, 2021 06:41 PM

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