RIYADH: Saudi Arabia's annual inflation rate rose to 1.6% in January from 1.5% the previous month, with rising rents remaining the main driver, according to government statistics released on Thursday.

Housing rents increased by 9.3% in January 2024, with prices for villas rising by 8.2%, the General Authority for Statistics reported, while the prices of housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels rose 7.8% compared to the previous year.

Food and beverages prices increased by 1%, driven by the increase in the price of vegetables by 3.7%.

Restaurants and hotels prices increased by 2.4% as the price of catering services rose by 2.1%.

Education prices also increased by 1.2% mainly due to a jump in secondary education prices by 4.3%.

Compared to global inflation levels, inflation has remained relatively low in Saudi Arabia over this past year, easing from 3.4% in January 2023. (Reporting by Pesha Magid; Editing by Kim Coghill)