How are volatile global commodity prices impacting Middle East economies?

    May 01, 2018 @ 01:58 PM / by Meleah Paull

    Jubail, Saudi Arabia as seen during AIRINC's recent on-site cost of living survey. Photo taken by AIRINC surveyor Eugene Kobiako.

    A decade of change

    Countries that rely heavily on oil resources to drive prosperity have long understood the challenge of government funding amid volatile global commodity prices. The last decade saw the highest price in history for crude oil per barrel followed by a persistent price slump that has eaten away at expected government revenue. While Saudi Arabia has exercised some control over the oil market through OPEC’s production restrictions, recent measures to bolster the economy and fund the state have aimed at domestic consumption. Motorists are already seeing changes. In January, prices at the pump went from .75 to 1.37 SAR and .90 to 2.04 SAR per liter for octane 91 and octane 95. However, even with increases of over 82% and 126% for those fuel grades, prices are still only equivalent to 1.38 and 2.06 USD per gallon, well below the international average.

    Sin taxes, VAT, and gas price increases

    This change follows the 2017 introduction of sin taxes and was implemented alongside the new 5% VAT, which applies to most goods and services in the kingdom. On-site surveys in Saudi Arabia and the UAE this quarter showed higher than average inflation, driven especially by increases in the transportation and tobacco categories in the past six months to a year. The UAE also introduced gas price increases, as well as a 5% VAT, at the start of this year, demonstrating a concerted effort by countries in the region to diversify their funding sources and bring their gas prices more in line with their real market value.


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    AIRINC's Data Points: The latest Global Mobility news and trends!

    Want to learn more?  The above excerpt is taken from Data Points, AIRINC's quarterly newsletter. Data Points brings you the latest updates from our Housing, Goods & Services, and Tax departments based on our expert international surveys, which are conducted by our global data collection team on-location.

    This quarter's cost of living surveys were conducted primarily in Europe, Asia and mainland Southeast Asia. Click below to access our quarterly release now:

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    Topics: Gas Prices, Data Points, Insights and Experience, Saudi Arabia, Middle East

    Meleah Paull

    Written by Meleah Paull

    Meleah joined AIRINC in 2015 as a surveyor, became a G&S analyst in 2017, and since 2021 has managed the housing team. Her primary responsibilities include setting and maintaining all housing data and answering client questions. She received her B.A. in International Studies from the University of Washington and her M.A. in International Affairs from The George Washington University.