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 to finance 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 (KSRelief).

Saudi Arabia is one of the largest providers of official development assistance (ODA) in the Gulf region in terms of volume. Total ODA (USD 2.1 billion, preliminary data) increased in 2021, representing 0.30% of gross national income (GNI).

Find the methodological notes behind the profile here.

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 the strategy is agreed, all key development co-operation actors in the country, notably the Saudi Fund and KSRelief, continue to provide development co-operation. These actors deliver their aid bilaterally, although Saudi Arabia is engaged in the multilateral development system as well, including through the Islamic Development Bank, United Nations (UN) organisations and the World Bank.

Saudi Arabia provided USD 2.1 billion (preliminary data) of ODA in 2021,1 representing 0.30% of GNI. This was an increase of 10.22% in real terms in volume and an increase in the share of GNI from 2020. Of Saudi Arabia’s 2020 ODA, 66.61% was provided in the form of grants and 33.39% in the form of non-grants.2

Saudi Arabia provided a slightly higher share of its ODA bilaterally in 2020. Gross bilateral ODA was 85.6% of total ODA. The share of gross bilateral ODA channelled through multilateral organisations (earmarked contributions) was 25.4%. Saudi Arabia allocated 14.4% of total ODA as core contributions to multilateral organisations.

In 2020, Saudi Arabia provided USD 283.7 million of gross bilateral ODA for the COVID-19 response, representing 14.9% of its total gross bilateral ODA. Fourteen per cent of total gross bilateral ODA was provided as health expenditure within the COVID-19 response.

In 2020, Saudi Arabia provided USD 797.6 million of gross ODA to the multilateral system, a fall of 8.6% in real terms from 2019. Of this, USD 317.3 million (39.8%) was core multilateral ODA, while USD 480.3 million (60.2%) was earmarked for a specific country, region, theme or purpose. Project-type funding that is earmarked for a specific theme and/or country accounted for 4.8% of Saudi Arabia’s non-core contributions and 95.2% was programmatic funding ( pooled funds and specific-purpose programmes and funds).

Eighty per cent of Saudi Arabia’s total contribution to multilateral organisations in 2020 was allocated to other UN (31.9%), UN funds and programmes (27.1%), and other multilateral organisations (21.2%), such as Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

The UN system received 59% of Saudi Arabia’s gross ODA to the multilateral system, mainly through earmarked contributions. Out of a total volume of USD 470.7 million to the UN system, the top three UN recipients of Saudi Arabia’s support (core and earmarked contributions) were: the WFP (USD 148.8 million), the UNDPO (USD 60.2 million) and WHO (USD 55.6 million).

See the section on Geographic and sectoral focus of ODA for the breakdown of bilateral allocations, including ODA earmarked through the multilateral development system. Learn more about multilateral development finance.

In 2020, Saudi Arabia’s bilateral spending declined compared to the previous year. It provided almost USD 1.9 billion of gross bilateral ODA (which includes earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations). This represented a decrease of 18.1% in real terms from 2019. In 2020, Saudi Arabia focused most of its bilateral ODA on addressing the health, poverty eradication and zero hunger goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

In 2020, country programmable aid was 65.3% of Saudi Arabia’s gross bilateral ODA, compared to an average of 47.8% of all countries reporting to the OECD.

In 2020, Saudi Arabia channelled bilateral ODA mainly through the public sector and multilateral organisations, as earmarked funding. Technical co-operation made up 7.2% of gross ODA in 2020.

In 2020, civil society organisations (CSOs) received USD 105.3 million of gross bilateral ODA. Of gross bilateral ODA, 0.5% was allocated to CSOs as core contributions and 5.1% was channelled through CSOs to implement projects initiated by the donor (earmarked funding). From 2019 to 2020, the combined core and earmarked contributions for CSOs increased as a share of bilateral ODA, from 2.7% to 5.5%.

Learn more about ODA allocations to and through CSOs, civil society engagement in development co-operation and the DAC Recommendation on Enabling Civil Society in Development Co-operation and Humanitarian Aid.

In 2020, Saudi Arabia’s bilateral ODA was primarily focused on the Middle East and Africa. USD 650.7 million was allocated to the Middle East and USD 581.4 million to Africa, accounting respectively for 34.3% and 30.6% of gross bilateral ODA. Asia and the Middle East were the main regional recipients of Saudi Arabia’s earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations.

In 2020, 56.2% of gross bilateral ODA went to Saudi Arabia’s top 10 recipients. Its top 10 recipients are in the Middle East and North Africa, Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa regions, in line with its policy priorities. The share of gross bilateral ODA that was not allocated by country was 17.7%.

In 2020, least developed countries received 42.0% of Saudi Arabia’s gross bilateral ODA (USD 798.2 million). This is above the reporting countries’ average of 23.6%. Saudi Arabia allocated 30.7% of its gross bilateral ODA to lower middle-income countries in 2020, while 17.7% was unallocated by income group. Saudi Arabia allocated 3.5% of gross bilateral ODA to small island developing states in 2020, equivalent to USD 66.3 million.

Support to fragile contexts reached USD 864.7 million in 2020, representing 45.5% of Saudi Arabia’s gross bilateral ODA. Twenty-four per cent of this ODA was provided in the form of humanitarian assistance (USD 706 million), decreasing from 43% in 2019, while 4% was allocated to peace, an increase from 2.4% in 2019. Allocations to conflict prevention, a subset of contributions to peace, increased from 2% in 2019 to 3.6% in 2020.

Learn more about support to fragile contexts on the States of Fragility platform.

In 2020, almost half of all of Saudi Arabia’s bilateral ODA was allocated to social infrastructure and services. Investments in this area accounted for 48.4% of bilateral ODA commitments (USD 918.7 million), with a strong focus on health and population policies (USD 436.3 million) and education (USD 235.5 million). Bilateral humanitarian assistance amounted to USD 264.7 million (13.9% of bilateral ODA). Earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations focused also on health and population policies and humanitarian assistance in 2020.

Saudi Arabia’s development co-operation is decentralised, with several domestic providers. The two largest actors are the Saudi Fund for Development, which provides development aid in the form of soft loans, and KSRelief, which provides humanitarian assistance. 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.

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. 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.

Notes

← 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.

← 2. Non-grants include sovereign loans, multilateral loans, equity investment and loans to the private sector.

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