Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s development co-operation is guided by its foreign policy and its principles to assist developing countries. The Saudi Fund for Development provides soft loans, which are not geographically restricted, and deals directly with the governments of developing countries in order to participate in financing priority development projects. Humanitarian assistance forms an important part of Saudi Arabia’s overall aid, and is managed by the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center. In line with its continued focus on improving its assistance, Saudi Arabia started to report at activity level to the OECD in 2018, after becoming a DAC Participant that same year. Saudi Arabia is one of the largest providers in the Gulf region in terms of volume, with increasing levels of official development assistance (ODA), although data are still incomplete. Saudi Arabia chaired the G20 meetings in 2020.

Saudi Arabia is currently working to deliver a national development co-operation strategy, aligned with the country’s Vision 2030 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Until this is agreed, all key development co-operation actors in the country, notably the Saudi Fund and the King Salman Center, continue to provide development co-operation on a demand-driven basis. These actors deliver their aid bilaterally, although Saudi Arabia is engaged in the multilateral development system as well, e.g. through the Islamic Development Bank, the World Health Organization and the World Food Programme.

Saudi Arabia started reporting to the OECD at the activity level in 2018 and has so far provided partial data for 2015-18. Data shown in this profile should therefore not be considered as total development aid provided by Saudi Arabia. Notably, data on loans extended and grants from some Saudi entities are missing and the country is working towards completing the data.

Saudi Arabia’s previous reporting to the OECD on its development co-operation programme consisted of aggregate figures on humanitarian and development assistance by region, loan disbursements and repayments by the Saudi Fund for Development, and multilateral aid.

Saudi Arabia provided more ODA in 2019 than in the previous year. The increase of 3.3% in real terms from 2018 was due to increased contributions to the United Nations (UN). Total ODA on a grant-equivalent basis stood at USD 4.4 billion (preliminary data),1 representing 0.56% of Saudi Arabia’s gross national income (GNI) in 2019. In 2018, Saudi Arabia’s ODA amounted to USD 4.4 billion. See the methodological notes for details on the definitions and statistical methodologies applied.

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In 2018, Saudi Arabia provided the largest proportion of its ODA bilaterally. Gross bilateral ODA was 99% of total ODA, of which 14% was channelled through multilateral organisations (earmarked contributions). Saudi Arabia allocated 1% of total ODA as core contributions to multilateral organisations.

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In 2018, Saudi Arabia increased its total support (core and earmarked contributions) to multilateral organisations. It provided USD 745 million of gross ODA to the multilateral system, an increase of 14.8% in real terms from 2017, mainly to WFP, UNICEF and UNWRA. Of this, USD 29 million was core multilateral ODA and the rest was earmarked for a specific country, region, theme or purpose. The totality of Saudi Arabia’s non-core contributions to multilateral organisations (100%) was softly earmarked (to pooled funds and specific-purpose programmes and funds).

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Note: See the list of UN acronyms.

In 2018, Saudi Arabia’s bilateral spending increased compared to the previous year. It provided USD 5 billion of gross bilateral ODA (which includes earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations), which represented an increase of 166.9% in real terms from 2017.

In 2019, providers of development co-operation started voluntarily reporting to the OECD data on how ODA focuses on the Sustainable Development Goals for 2018 activities. In 2018, Saudi Arabia focused most of its bilateral ODA on addressing the goals of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable cities and communities, clean water and sanitation, and zero hunger.

In 2018, country programmable aid was 82% of Saudi Arabia’s gross bilateral ODA, compared to a non-DAC country average of 40%.

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Note: NGO: non-governmental organisation.

In 2018, Saudi Arabia channelled its bilateral ODA mainly through the public sector and multilateral organisations, as earmarked funding.

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In 2018, Saudi Arabia’s bilateral ODA was primarily focused on Asia and Africa. USD 3.9 billion was allocated to Asia and USD 0.9 billion to Africa, accounting respectively for 80% and 18% of gross bilateral ODA. USD 34 million was allocated to ODA-eligible countries in Latin America and the Caribbean and USD 13 million was allocated in Europe. Two per cent of Saudi Arabia’s gross bilateral ODA was unspecified by region in 2018.

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Bilateral ODA by recipient country

In 2018, 90% of gross bilateral ODA went to Saudi Arabia’s top 10 recipients. The share of gross bilateral ODA that was not allocated by country was 2%.

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In 2018, least developed countries received 75.0% of Saudi Arabia’s gross bilateral ODA (USD 3.7 billion). This is above the DAC country average of 23.8%. Two per cent of its ODA was unallocated by income group. Saudi Arabia allocated 1.7% of gross bilateral ODA to small island developing states in 2018, equal to USD 82 million.

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Note: LDC: least developed country; LIC: low-income country; LMIC: lower middle-income country; UMIC: upper middle-income country; MADCTs: more advanced developing countries and territories.

Support to fragile contexts reached USD 4.5 billion of gross bilateral ODA in 2018 (90.8% of gross bilateral ODA). Learn more about support to fragile contexts on the States of Fragility platform.

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Note: The chart represents only gross bilateral ODA that is allocated by country.

In 2018, most bilateral ODA was allocated to water and sanitation. Investments in this area accounted for 27.6% of bilateral ODA commitments (USD 210 million). There was also a focus on transport and storage (USD 196 million), and other social infrastructure and services (USD 133 million). Bilateral humanitarian aid amounted to USD 15 million (2% of bilateral ODA).

In 2018, Saudi Arabia committed USD 295.1 million (38.8% of bilateral allocable aid) to promote aid for trade and improve developing countries’ trade performance and integration into the world economy in 2018.

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Saudi Arabia’s development co-operation is decentralised, with several domestic providers. The two largest actors are the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (providing humanitarian assistance), and the Saudi Fund for Development (which provides development aid in the form of soft loans). In addition, the Ministry of Finance manages bilateral aid and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs manages Saudi Arabia’s contributions to multilateral institutions. A range of other domestic stakeholders also disburse ODA.

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Explore the Monitoring Dashboard of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation.

Saudi Fund for Development: https://www.sfd.gov.sa

King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief): https://www.ksrelief.org

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia: https://www.mofa.gov.sa/sites/mofaen/pages/default.aspx

Participant in the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC). Reporting to the OECD since 1966 and reporting activity-level data since 2018 on 2015, 2016 and 2017 activities. Observed a DAC statistical review and a DAC peer review in 2018.

The methodological notes provide further details on the definitions and statistical methodologies applied, including the grant-equivalent methodology, core and earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations, country programmable aid, channels of delivery, bilateral ODA unspecified/unallocated, bilateral allocable aid, the gender equality policy marker, and the environment markers.

← 1. DAC members adopted the grant-equivalent methodology starting from their reporting of 2018 data as a more accurate way to count the donor effort in development loans. See the methodological notes for further details.

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https://doi.org/10.1787/2dcf1367-en

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