The Saudi ministry estimates that gross domestic product of the world's top oil exporter jumped 6.8 percent in 2011. This is the country's fastest expansion since 7.7 percent in 2003.
Saudi Arabia's strong economic growth this year was a positive surprise, Finance Minister Ibrahim Alassaf said, adding that the government's plans to build hundreds of thousands of homes aimed to limit future inflationary pressures. "In previous years, we used to expect higher growth but it came lower.
Figures this year were a happy surprise for us," Alassaf said. The ministry estimates the government sector grew 6.7 percent this year while the private sector expanded 8.3 percent. The non-oil industrial sector grew an estimated 15 percent and the construction sector 11.6 percent. The ministry's 2011 GDP growth estimate is well above the 5.1 percent forecast made by the central bank in its annual report released earlier this month.
The Saudi government boosted expenditures to a record SR804bn, $214bn, this year, a 39 percent increase over its initial plan, to ease social tensions as a wave of unrest swept through the Arab world. Its initial plan is to spend SR690bn in 2012.
Alassaf also said that the government's plan to spend on building new housing units, announced earlier this year should reduce price pressures in future. In the case of Saudi Arabia, this has been for many years the increase in housing rental fees, The Saudi economy can withstand temporary pressures if pressures ease in the future.