Reviews and Comments

The Saudi Arabian Economy: Policies, Achievements & Challenges








































































































Other Books of  the Author:

- The GCC Economies
- Political, Economic and Financial Country Risk

Saudi Economy Book:  Overview  |   Cover  |   Content Table  |   Benefits   |   Reviews

Book Reviews

Publisher's Review
In this unique text, Mohamed Ramady develops a framework for studying  fundamental challenges to the modern Saudi Arabian economy. Public and private sector topics include:

- The hydrocarbon and minerals sector, including a new model of mining privatization and cooperation

- The impact of small and medium sized businesses

- The evolving role of "family" businesses

- The growing role of women in the Saudi economy

- Shifting trade patterns

- The Saudi "offset" technology transfer program

The author offers an analysis of key challenges facing the Saudi economy, including the potential costs and benefits of privatization, globalization, and eventual membership in the WTO. Employment, education, economic and social stability, and Saudi Arabia’s place in the Gulf Cooperation Council are offered as keys to the consensus building needed to ensure the Kingdom’s healthy economic future

Editorial Review from
In this unique text, Mohamed Ramady develops a framework for studying fundamental challenges to the modern Saudi Arabian economy. Public and private sector topics include: - The hydrocarbon and minerals sector, including a new model of mining privatization and cooperation - The impact of small and medium sized businesses - The evolving role of "family" businesses - The growing role of women in the Saudi economy - Shifting trade patterns - The Saudi "offset" technology transfer program The author offers an analysis of key challenges facing the Saudi economy, including the potential costs and benefits of privatization, globalization, and eventual membership in the WTO. Employment, education, economic and social stability, and Saudi Arabia’s place in the Gulf Cooperation Council are offered as keys to the consensus building needed to ensure the Kingdom’s healthy economic future. Mohamed Ramady teaches in the Department of Finance and Economics, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals.

Readers Comments on the Book

Benjamin Havlin, USA

I am a graduating senior majoring in Economics and International Affairs at George Washington University in Washington, DC, and I have been reading your book: "The Saudi Arabian Economy: Policies, Achievements, and Challenges." First of all let me congratulate you on an excellent and immeasurably informative book on the Kingdom's economy. It has been unbelievably helpful in giving me an authentic and balanced picture of the economic
situation faced in KSA

James Collins "James Collins" (UK)
It is pleasing to see that the book has attracted good reviews from readers and researchers,  This is a serious book that addresses key problems, maybe not in the confrontational style that others wish for. For example
1. Unemployment, the Author brings this up and points out that the level of unemployment might reach a staggering level of nearly 48% - for males only - by 2013 , if no serious attempt at structural economic changes takes place .
2.Cultural issues and work habits - this is explored in depth as being one key constraint in the Saudization policies, and the Author also examines in detail the impediments faced by women in Saudi Arabia, ..
3.The good Professor also examines in depth the failings of the Offset program - something which other , Western researchers have not picked up on, and this is certainly not the hallmark of a Professor who is afraid to speak up his mind ..
4.Did the previous reviewer read the sections on the treatment of foreign workers and their contribution to the building up of the Saudi Economy ? This is social and cultural issues , I believe , unless I totally misunderstood the concept..
Finally the Royals are mentioned - revisit the index and see CP Abdullah's name and more important , READ the section on the workings of a RENTIER economy which illustrates the drawback of this system of income distribution ..
Of course, the book might not be everyone's cup of tea, especially for those with predisposed prejudices and notions about the region ,and Saudi Arabia in particular. That there is a lot that needs to be done in the Kingdom is undoubted - but to gripe about the Royal Family and ignore other changes and the nuances of the workings of the Saudi system is to miss on the changes going on today .. So many times others, outside the region ,have been blinded on these finer points - just look at the mess in Iraq and the previous advice of the so called experts in our Western world. Whatever its shortcomings , this is a valuable and serious piece of work on Saudi Arabia.. Of course those who cannot stomach data and statistics can always read novels such as " Under the Veil. or Beneath the Veil or In front of the Veil " etc to reinforce stereotypes..

Siraj Wahab (Arab News, Saudi Arabia)
BOOKS on economics tend to be drab and dreary compilations of statistics that excite only economists and are relegated to library reference sections. Dr. Mohamed A. Ramady’s “The Saudi Arabian Economy” is an exciting book that uses complex material to weave an interesting narrative of Saudi Arabia’s economic reforms, policies, achievements and challenges.

The book draws upon classroom notes from the course he teaches on the Saudi economy at the Kingdom’s King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) as well as his experience working in the Gulf financial sector. Ramady worked as vice president with Citibank as well as assistant general manager with Saudi American Bank in Jeddah and Riyadh in the early 1980s. In the 500-page book, he presents a cohesive picture of what has taken place over the last three decades while emphasizing aspects of human and social development. Equally important, he explains how the Kingdom’s economic systems are open! ing up a nd evolving, “faster than some would want, slower than others hope for.”

Saudi Arabia, as Ramady mentions early on, conjures up different images to different people, ranging from a romantic idealism of the purity of desert life to a place of unchecked commercialization. Saudi society, he says, is still imbued with the dignity of traditional desert hospitality, warmth and a noble culture. At the same time, it is part of a fast-moving consumer-oriented and impersonal world.

According to Saudi Aramco, the Kingdom sits on 260 billion barrels of oil, or a quarter of the world’s total known reserves. If one adds the little-known fact that the Kingdom also has the world’s fourth largest gas reserves at 230 trillion cubic feet, one can more fully comprehend the strategic importance of the Kingdom in meeting the world’s energy needs.

Ramady examines the development of the Kingdom’s financial sector and how the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) has assumed broad regulatory powers despite being constrained in the use of more traditional central bank policy tools, such as discount and interest-rate instruments. This agency, he writes, has evolved into a full-fledged central bank with relative independence. He also provides some interesting details about the agency and its managers since its inception in 1952 with technical assistance from the United States.

“The current SAMA governor, Hamad Saud Al-Sayari, has been in that position since his appointment in 1983 — making him one of the longest-serving governors in the world. Previous SAMA governors served for various periods — George Bowlers (1952-1954), Ralph Standish (1954-1958), Anwar Ali (1958-1974) and Abdul Aziz Al-Quraishi (1974-1983). All of them brought different management styles and professional backgrounds, mostly drawing upon Western Central Bank and International Monetary Fund philosophies.”

Ramady also details the evolution of the banking industry. The first br! anch of a foreign commercial bank, the Netherlands Trading Society (today, the Saudi Hollandi Bank) was established in 1927, he writes and adds: “These banks were initially unpopular, as due to social and religious stigma there was strong resistance to paying and receiving interest. The result was effectively a cash-oriented society until the early 1970s. Moneychangers, who carefully avoided the word bank, flourished and provided strong competition to foreign banks.”

Money changers were the oldest financial institutions in Saudi Arabia, originating in the effort to serve pilgrims who came to Makkah with different currencies from all over the world. “As the economy developed in the 1950s, more money exchanges sprung up, such as Al-Mukairn, Al-Subaeii, Kaaki, Bamoada, Baghlaf, Amoudi, Al-Roumaizan and Al-Omary. The most prominent exchangers are the Al-Rajhi family.”

Ramady writes that in 1937, the Mahfouz and Kaaki families successfully petitioned King Abdul Aziz to establish the Kingdom’s first locally owned bank, “but it was not until 1953 that the Mahfouz-Kaaki Company was transformed into what became the National Commercial Bank (NCB). In 1957, a second locally owned bank, Riyad Bank, was established.”

On Saudization, Ramady writes that the government is making “copious attempts” to ensure that more jobs are found for nationals, either through creating new jobs or replacing foreigners through an invigorated Saudization program. “However, in the final analysis,” he writes, “Saudis with the appropriate market-driven skills will be employed. Others seeking jobs will realize that it is necessary to change their mindset and to accept positions previously deemed to be either too menial or socially unacceptable.”

When writing about Saudization, he mentions the SAMA figure of private remittances and transfers sent from Saudi Arabia for the period 1970-2002. It amounted to SR979.3 billion ($261.2 billion). Ramady right! ly menti ons that such figures prompt, from time to time, heated debate in the local media about the need to speed up Saudization or to impose curbs on remittances. But his take on Saudization is unambiguous: “The process of Saudization should not take place at the expense of efficiency and productivity in the national economy.”

Ramady mentions the 2003 Saudi government decision to reduce foreign workers in the Kingdom. “Interior Minister Prince Naif, as head of the Manpower Council, announced that three million expatriates were to be phased out within a decade and that the total number of expatriates must not exceed 20 percent of the Saudi population by 2013. The decision also stipulated a quota system for foreign nationalities in which no single nationality must exceed 10 percent of total expatriates.”

Ramady notes this system will hit the Asian expatriates particularly hard, “as they represent the largest component of the work force. The Egyptians, Filipinos and Yemenis will also be affected... Those least affected will be the small numbers of highly paid expatriates from the United States and Europe.”

The best part about each chapter is that it starts by telling the reader in bulleted points what they should expect to learn after the end of each chapter. It is very meticulously done and very easy to follow. It only enhances the interest of the reader. At the end of each chapter there is a summary of the key points followed by critical thinking questions. It is almost like a textbook; in fact, it has been adopted by some universities as a textbook.

The lessons that can be learned by reading this book are lessons needed well beyond the classroom or the campus. For people involved in business and investment, government and education or cultural preservation, the message of this book is clear. As with all nations, the Saudi economy is a part of the global economy, and the decisions we make today will determine the prosperity or lack thereof in the future! . In 220;The Saudi Arabian Economy,” Ramady gives us a great tool to understand the complexities of the modern economy and to chart a wise direction for the years to come.


Dr. Amani Mohammad, Dar Al Hikma College, Jeddah
I have already gone through the book. It is a great piece of hard work. You Know we always find it challenging to get the appropriate info. about the real world practices for students applications and information about their kingdom economy. There is no doubt that we will need a number of your book.
Mohammad A. ALSALEH (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia)
Form a first glance on this great book, you would find various virgin subjects that haven't been handled by any researcher' review or book on the economy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

As a proud Saudi researcher and worker in the Saudi Islamic finance sector, I have found many subjects that were extremely important in any research topic concerning the economy of Saudi Arabia. Among the important subjects that have been handled by this book:

1. Women in Saudi Arabia:
Dr. Ramady handles this virgin topic by pointing out women's roles in the Saudi economy and especially the workforce, by looking their existing and future roles in the workforce.

2. The Saudi mining sector:
This sector is considered as a reserve asset to the kingdom. Dr. Ramady studies the distribution of the oil and mining sector among the regions of the kingdom, hence the need for specialization in each sector. Saudi Arabia, as Dr. Ramady describes, has a large oil-rich area in the eastern province along with a specialized region in oil related maters. On the other side, the kingdom has a mineral-rich region in the west with a specialized region that could handle such a resource.

3. The national debt:
This book handles the national debt bill by analyzing the Saudi budget and the growing expenses which holds back the ability to handle the national debt quickly. The kingdom has a growing wage bill, subsidy bill and interest bill that should be handled by the government.

4. Privatization:
The book explains in detail the different forms of government privatization such as BOT and BOO. The book then explains the steps taken in privatizing the Saudi Telecom Company. The book then handles potential privatization opportunities in the gas sector. The book also mentions the impediments in privatizing the electricity sector by comparing such experiences in other countries.

5. Globalization:
The book also handles the issue of globalization and joining the World Trade Organization, which is scheduled to happen by the end of this year. The book discusses impacts of such an event on Saudi producers and consumers in both the short and long term.

This book is considered to be, to me and many other researchers who are interested in the economy of Saudi Arabia, a guidebook and a path in studying this country's economy by pointing out the important issues that control this country's economy.

Abdulaziz Al Abdulkader "Abdulaziz" (KSA)
Thoroughly enjoyable and easy flowing reading even for a layman .. I was particularly interested in the offset technology transfer model and private sector issues concerning globalization.. Excellent stuff for those interested in Saudi in a serious manner .
Ibrahim ALnaeem (KSA)
In my opinion this is a best book written until know about the Saudi economy. It contains useful information with simple words which is easy to every one to understand. I advice any one who want to write reports or book to make it as reference specially in Saudi capital market and the financial market. I am sure you will be benefited from this book.


Hussain Bokhari (Pakistan)
This book has provided a new angle from which people can look at the Saudi Economy. The country has been a major player in the world's economy ever since the discovery of oil. There have been several books in the past about this mysterious economy, but they have been from people living outside the Kingdom. Dr. Ramady's view is the first of its kind in a very long time to come out of the Kingdom itself.

He has used his experience and vast knowledge of the country and it's people to give us a complete view on what Saudi Arabia has accomplished, is currently focusing on, and what challenges lie ahead.

The best thing about this book is that it not only points out the fundamental weaknesses in the economy, but it also talks about the ramifications, and the way forward. It gives a bird's eye view of the Economy, which allows the reader to make sense of the Saudi policies.

As a student, the book allowed me to obtain much needed data and information about the Saudi Economy and put things into perspective. Although everyone knows the importance and the Kingdom's reliance on the Hydrocarbons industry, the book points to other growing parts of the economy as well.

The author has an unbiased view on the economy, as he praises the strengths of the Economy, and criticizes the lack of attention being put on the problems.

The sections on 'The Financial Markets' and 'Key Challenges' are extremely interesting. The first part is made interesting due to the fact that author has spent over ten years in the Saudi banking sector. For instance, he has brought to light some previously un-talked about issues such as shareholder concentrations in Saudi Banks. The latter part regarding the Key challenges talks about issues that are extremely important for the future success of Saudi Arabia.

The incredible wealth of facts and figures in mentioned in this book point towards an impressive effort. This book should not only be read by the Saudi public and those who are looking for a better understanding of the Saudi Economy, but also by the Policy makers of Saudi Arabia themselves.
Khalid Al-Omran (KSA)
This book is an example of writing at its finest. It provides an in depth analysis of the Saudi economy looking at contemporary issues facing the country and the roots of those issues from the country's past. Surely the author has an unparalleled understanding of the Kingdom's economy and also of its people. It strives to capture the essence of the Saudi Arabian economy and achieves so very much more. I highly recommend this very unique title.
Badr Al-Nowaisser (Jeddah- Saudi Arabia)
I consider this book written by Dr.Ramady as one of the best books I've ever read about economy in Saudi Arabia.
Since I'm Saudi, and this book is related to my field, I can say that comparing with other books on the Saudi economy written by western Professors and researchers such as Cordesman and Wilson, this book is the most up to date and brings out social issues more clearly while the other authors concentrated on political issues which distracted from the economic analysis.
Dr.Ramady's book guided me in some researches that am doing now, it was very valuable for me and I assume it will be an excellent source of information about our economy for everyone. What am sure about is that this book is not the kind of books that you read only once, this book (at least for me) will be read many times due to what its author showed of high analysis skills.
Akram Saab (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Mohamed A. Ramady was my economics professor in King Fahad University of Petroleum and Minerals. He is one of the best in his field, and this book is his "conclusion" of his fantastic research and studies about the Saudi economy. The book is amazing and is full of surprises and facts that will shock you. I recommend this book strongly.
Azim Wazeer (Sri Lankan living in KSA)
As an expert living in the kingdom and a student at KFUPM this title was of great use to me due to the fact that I'm a finance major. What Dr.Ramady has done in this one of a kind text is combine his extensive industry experience here in the kingdom and his dedicated research about Saudi Arabia in a flowing, eloquent text covering every major issue and aspect of the country's economy. A great tool for researchers & students indeed with an excellent bibliography showing you just how far and wide the author went in order to acquire the various data & statistics that are needed for such a comprehensive study of any countries economy.

The author shows a deep understanding & appreciation of the kingdom's culture and people. Having said that, he has not refrained from criticism. The kingdom like any other economy is faced with many problems and it is here that the author's experience & research really shine through as he takes an in depth look at what the problem is, why it's occurring, what will follow in the future all while remaining non-confrontational to prevent antagonizing anyone and perhaps positively affecting the people of the kingdom and the people who wish to understand its economy.

The book has greatly benefited my own research in Saudi foreign trade. After conducting a substantial search for material on the kingdom's export sector it was quickly apparent to me that there was a lack of meaningful qualitative data based on the various trade statistics available. 'The Saudi Arabian Economy' solved many of my problems. Interesting information such as Lebanon's role as a trans-shipment center for Saudi goods & specifically a table listing top Saudi exporters came in handy during the selection of companies for a questionnaire that I was preparing on the development of the Saudi export market all show that the book has not missed a single thing.

Other Books of  the Author:

- The GCC Economies
- Political, Economic and Financial Country Risk

Saudi Arabia, Economy, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Economic Developments, Islam, Makkah, Madina, Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), oil reserves, OPEC, domestic terrorism, alternative energy, strategic relationships, FT Global 500, globalization, economic reforms, King Abdullah, Saudi Economy, Dr. Ramady, Mohamed A Ramady, FCIB, oil policy, Middle-East, The Saudi Arabian Economy: Policies, Achievements and Challenges, economic planning, Saudi budgetary framework, oil income, Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency’s (SAMA), Islamic financial services, capital markets, Saudi women, Saudization, youth unemployment, Gulf Cooperation Council, GCC,

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