DemographicsSome Key Facts… Population (July 2008 est.): 28,686,633 (22.6 million Saudis, 5.6 million foreign nationals) Age structure 0 - 14 years: 38% (male: female = 50:50) 15 - 64 years: 59.5% (male: female = 60:40) 65 years and over: 2.5% (male: female = 50:50) KSA has a birth rate of 3.83 children born/ woman. Life expectancy is now 78.48 years for women and 74.23 years for men. The Expatriate population mainly comprises of people from the Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesians etc.) and Westerners (Europe, Britain etc.).
EconomyThe Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was been rated as the 13th most economically competitivecountry in the world according to the International Finance Corporation (IFC)-World Bankannual ‘Doing Business’ report issued in September 2009.With one-quarter of the world’s known oil reserves and 13 percent of world production, SaudiArabia is the world’s leading producer and exporter of oil. In 2008, the non-oil GDP grew by4.5 percent to $223 billion. Saudi Arabia’s nonpetroleum exports increased to $2.7 billion inMay 2008, up from $2.3 billion in May 2007.Conversion rate: 1 Euro = 5.10 SAR (Saudi Riyal)
Demographics and ConsumptionSome consumption facts KSA PC / laptop at 23% home 89% Mobile phone (est. March 2007) 51% Credit card (est. June 2009) 86% Car (May 2007, Global TGI)
The Saudi society The family is the most important social institution in Saudi Arabia. For Saudis generally, the family is the primary basis of identity and status for the individual and the immediate focus of individual loyalty. Majority of the families in Saudi Arabia now live in a nuclear set-up i.e. husband wife and children, although family gathering still remain a very strong focal point (even though less frequent). Satellite TV has become the main source of entertainment for Saudi housewife’s as internet is mainly limited to younger age groups. Eating out has become one of the main weekend activities for the whole family. Families prefer fast food joints for conventional restuarants, which has also lead to increasing incidence of obesity. As per a WHO report 66% of Saudi women and 52% of Saudi men are suffering from obesity.
The typical Saudi lifeFamily/ HouseholdThe family and tribe are the basis of the social structure.As is seen in their naming conventions, Saudis are cognizant of theirheritage, their clan, and their extended family, as well as their nuclearfamily.Saudis take their responsibilities to their family quite seriously.Families tend to be large and the extended family is quite close.The individual derives a social network and assistance in times of needfrom the family.Nepotism is considered a good thing, since it implies that employingpeople one knows and trusts is of primary importance.
The typical Saudi lifeHospitality for ExpatriatesSaudis socialize primarily in restaurants and international hotels whenentertaining expatriates whom they do not know well. After some timeyou will be invited to the home.Entertainment will generally be same-sex only. If both sexes areincluded, they will be in separate rooms.If you are invited to a Saudis house: You would usually remove your shoes. Dress conservatively. Try to arrive at the invited time. Punctuality is appreciated but not crucial. Show respect for the elders by greeting them first. Accept the offer of Arabian coffee and dates even if you do not normally drink coffee. If you are invited for a meal, understand that there will be a great deal of socializing and small talk before the meal is served.
Work and careerUntil recently, most Saudis haven’t needed to hold jobs. The government providesfree education and health care and levies no personal income tax. In 2007, just 4million Saudis worked, according to the Ministry of Economy and Planning.Only a fraction of the labor force is female, in part because of constraints placedon women by the government’s strict interpretation of Islam.In its 2009 Ease of Doing Business report, the World Bank ranks Saudi Arabia16th out of 181 countries, up from 67th in 2004. The kingdom attracted $24.3billion in foreign direct investment in 2007, according to the latest available figuresfrom the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, compared withjust $183 million in 2000.There are between 5-6 million foreign residents living and working in Saudi andmany of them live in compounds and often enjoy a frenetic social life. The mainareas where Expats work in Saudi Arabia are defense, healthcare, and the oilindustry. IT, telecommunications, banking and other menial and physical laborjobs.
Living conditions With up to three generations to accommodate, groups of two or more villas are common. The less well-off prefer houses to apartments. Young newly-married couples are given low-cost loans and in some states these turn out to be gifts if the loans aren’t repaid within a particular time limit. Foreign workers live in compounds. The term ‘compound’ refers to a group of houses or small, usually low-level, apartment blocks within a walled enclosure, rather like a private estate. Compound facilities include a communal swimming pool, a restaurant and shop, tennis and squash courts and a gymnasium. Saudi Arabian expatriate life is invariably in compounds The exterior and interior quality of buildings is high throughout the region, and improving as prospective landlords vie with each other to have the most attractive buildings. The average property is also more spacious than its equivalent in Europe or the USA. Rooms are generally large in all types of accommodation.
Agenda Demographics and Consumption Economic Situation Relevant Local Aspects
KSA economySaudi Arabia has an oil-based economy with strong government controls over major economic activities. Itpossesses about 20% of the worlds proven petroleum reserves, ranks as the largest exporter of petroleum,and plays a leading role in OPEC.The petroleum sector accounts for roughly 80% of budget revenues, 45% of GDP, and 90% of exportearnings. Saudi Arabia is encouraging the growth of the private sector in order to diversify its economy and toemploy more Saudi nationals.Diversification efforts are focusing on power generation, telecommunications, natural gas exploration, andpetrochemical sectors. Roughly 5.5 million foreign workers play an important role in the Saudi economy,particularly in the oil and service sectors, while Riyadh is struggling to reduce unemployment among its ownnationals.Saudi officials are particularly focused on employing its large youth population, which generally lacks theeducation and technical skills the private sector needs.Riyadh has substantially boosted spending on job training and education, most recently with the opening ofthe King Abdullah University of Science and Technology - Saudi Arabias first co-educational university. Aspart of its effort to attract foreign investment, Saudi Arabia acceded to the WTO in December 2005 after manyyears of negotiations.Saudi authorities supported the banking sector during the crisis by making direct capital injections into banks,reducing rates, and publicly affirming the governments guarantee of bank deposits.
Economic outlook for 2010 Economic growth likely to accelerate to 3.9% in 2010, with private sector growing 3.7% on steady turnaround in commercial activity Saudi private sector and banks poised to gradually move away from risk aversion this year, claims on private sector seen growing 8% in 2010, up from 2.1% in 2009 Real estate shortages, public spending on infrastructure and a revival in global petrochemical demand among factors to support non-oil sectors Productivity has been declining in government and private sectors, which could lead to challenges for future job creation, restrain economic multipliers Source: Banque Saudi Fransi (Saudi Arabia Economic, 13th January 2010)
Other indicators of economy GDP composition by sector (2009 estimate): Industry (60.4%), Services (36.4%), Agriculture (3.2%) Inflation rate (consumer prices): 5% (2009 est.) and 9.9% (2008 est.) Unemployment rate: 11.6% (2009 est.)
Agenda Demographics and KSA Consumption Economic Situation Local Aspects
Local/ Cultural Aspects Saudi Arabian culture mainly revolves around both Islamic and tribal values. Islams two holiest sites, Mecca and Medina, are located in the country. Five times every day, Muslims are called to prayer from the minarets of mosques which are scattered around the country. The weekend begins on Thursday due to Friday being the holiest day for Muslims. Music and dance One of Saudi Arabias most compelling folk rituals is the Ardha, the countrys national dance. This is a sword dance based on ancient Bedouin traditions: drummers beat out a rhythm and a poet chants verses while sword-carrying men dance shoulder to shoulder. Al-sihba folk music, from the Hejaz, has its origins in al-Andalus. In Mecca, Medina and Jeddah, dance and song incorporate the sound of the mizmar, an oboe-like woodwind instrument in the performance of the Mizmar. Saudi Arabian Musical tradition depends heavily on the modern Arabian oud. Dress Saudi Arabian dress follows strictly the principles of hijab (the Islamic principle of modesty, especially in dress). The predominantly loose and flowing but covering garments are helpful in Saudi Arabias desert climate. Traditionally, men usually wear an ankle-length shirt woven from wool or cotton (known as a thawb), with a keffiyeh (a large checkered square of cotton held in place by a cord coil) or a ghutra (a plain white square made of finer cotton, also held in place by a cord coil) worn on the head. Womens clothes are decorated with tribal motifs, coins, sequins, metallic thread, and appliques. Women are required to wear an abaya or modest clothing when in public.
Local/ Cultural Aspects Food Arabic unleavened bread, or khobz, is eaten with almost all meals. Other staples include lamb, grilled chicken, falafel (deep-fried chickpea balls), shawarma (spit-cooked sliced lamb), and Ful medames (a paste of fava beans, garlic and lemon). Arabic tea is also a famous custom, which is used in both casual and formal meetings between friends, family and even strangers. The tea is black (without milk) and has herbal flavoring that comes in many variations. Islamic dietary laws forbid the eating of pork and the drinking of alcohol, and this law is enforced strictly throughout Saudi Arabia. Film and theatre Public theatres and cinemas were prohibited, as some Muslims views deem those institutions to be incompatible with Islam. However, lately, a reform is undergone in the country and several cinemas and movies had been shown under high tensions from radical Saudi groups. Theaters are available in private compounds, public theaters can be found but often are more popular for local music, arts, and theatre. DVDs (American and British movies) are legal and widely available. Religion Due to the legal framework of the country, which does not provide legal protection for freedom of religion, the public practice of non-Muslim religions is prohibited. According to a 2009 Pew Forum report, 97 percent of the total population are Muslims.
About the headscarf The male headdress is also known as “Keffiyeh”. Headdress pattern might be an indicator of which tribe, clan, or family the wearer comes from. However this is not always the case. While in one village, a tribe or clan might have a unique headdress, in the next town over an unrelated tribe or clan might wear the same headdress. Most popular headdresses: Checkered headdresses relate to type and government and participation in the Hajj, or a pilgrimage to Mecca. Red and white checkered headdress – Generally of Jordanian origin. Wearer has made Hajj and comes from a country with a Monarch. Black and white checkered headdress – The pattern is historically of Palestinian origin. Black and grey represent Presidential rule and completion of the Hajj. Shi’a- black turbans associated with Shi’a clergy who are somehow connected to the Prophet Muhammed or Ali Ibn Abi Talib the cousin of the Prophet who was the 4th Khalif of Islam and leader of the Shi’a sect. Those who wear white turbans are associated with the lower echelons of the Shi’a hierarchy.