Numbers Game: World Bank names Saudi "lowest poverty rate" in Arab countries, despite local outcry for help

Published November 4th, 2013 - 08:12 GMT
Despite the World Bank news, statistics show that nearly 40% of Saudi Arabians live below the poverty line. [thearabguardian]
Despite the World Bank news, statistics show that nearly 40% of Saudi Arabians live below the poverty line. [thearabguardian]

Saudi Arabia ranked 10th globally and first in the Arab world in terms of the lowest poverty rate, according to a recent poverty report released by the World Bank.

“Jobs can provide a transformational path out of poverty for men, women and youth. Beyond an individual’s income, jobs can bring great value to society through their broad influence on living standards, productivity and social cohesion,” said Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank Group.

He added: “The World Bank has set an interim target to reduce global poverty to 9 percent in 2020, which, if achieved, would mark the first time the rate has fallen into single digit.”

According to the report, those who are not able to live with basic needs such as food, clothing, housing and health care are considered in extreme poverty.

“The results of the work aim at helping to overcome poverty and create opportunities for people in developing countries,” the report said.

Taiwan ranked first, with the lowest poverty rate of 1.5 percent globally, followed by Malaysia at 3.8 percent, Ireland at 5.5 percent, Austria at 6.2 percent, Thailand and France at 7.8 percent, Switzerland at 7.9 percent, Canada at 9.4 percent, the Netherlands at 10.5 percent, and Saudi Arabia at 12.7 percent.

Chad, Haiti and Liberia rank as the poorest countries worldwide, with more than 80 percent of their populations living in extreme poverty.

The Saudi government has spent billions of riyals annually to provide better education, health care and infrastructure facilities to decrease the growing number of poor people.

The government also provides allowances, monthly benefits and payments for food and utility bills to the poor, elderly, disabled, orphans and workers who are injured on the job.

Moreover, the government’s main focus is on reducing poverty, raising standards of living, increasing productivity of the economy, strengthening the science and technology base, fostering a solid research and development capacity, and enhancing the performance of the public sector.

Saudi Arabia is the world's largest oil exporter and spends more than 4 percent of its total GDP annually on donations and humanitarian aid that reaches people in more than 110 countries around the globe.

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