Saudi Arabia is expected to grow at its fastest pace in ten years, making it one of the world's fastest-growing economies this year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Wednesday.
In a consultation report, the Washington-based lender estimated that the kingdom's gross domestic product (GDP) could grow by 7.6% this year, the fastest in nearly a decade.
The growth will be supported by extensive business-friendly reforms and a sharp increase in oil prices and "production power recovery from a pandemic-induced recession in 2020".
As for inflation, it will remain contained at 2.8% this year, the IMF said, adding that the country's public finances and external position are expected to strengthen substantially, thanks to increased non-oil revenue and higher proceeds from oil exports.
It noted that the kingdom's "impressive" measures to improve the business environment, attract more investors and create jobs in the private sector have made Saudi Arabia business-friendly.
"These initiatives, combined with governance and labour market reform, have made it easier to do business (a business can be registered in just three minutes), increased the number of industrial facilities and raised female participation in the labour force," Amine Mati, Assistant Director, and Sidra Rehman, Economist, at the IMF's Middle East and Central Asia Department, wrote in the report.
The report noted that there are now more women employed in Saudi and this is thanks to initiatives like the removal of formal restrictions and legislation that ensure equality of employment, employer incentives for hiring Saudi women and childcare support.
"As a result, the proportion of Saudi women in work has doubled in the past four years to 33%, exceeding the 30% target set under the 2030 plan and the 27% average for the Middle East and North Africa."
The kingdom's oil revenues reached SAR250 billion ($66.8 billion) in the second quarter of 2022, up by 89% from a year earlier.
The country is implementing its Vision 2030 strategy to diversify its economy and reduce its dependence on oil.
(Reporting by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Daniel Luiz)