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Saudi Arabia - People

Saudi Arabias population is very homogeneous. The native population is 90 percent Arab and 10 percent Afro-Asian. Arabic is the official language. In July 2006, estimates placed Saudi Arabias population at 27,019,731, with an annual growth rate of 2.18 percent. The population total includes nearly 6 million non-nationals. Approximately 100,000 foreigners enter the country each year, mostly to fill specific job openings. Immigrant workers come primarily from other Arab and Muslim countries, including many from South Asia and the Philippines. Fewer than 100,000 Westerners work and live in Saudi Arabia.

Over 70% of the Kingdoms population is 30 years or younger. Despite having a large expatriate community of various faiths (more than 30% of the population), most forms of public religious expression inconsistent with the government-sanctioned interpretation of Sunni Islam are restricted; non-Muslims are not allowed to have Saudi citizenship and non-Muslim places of worship are not permitted.

Because most of the terrain is unsuitable for cultivation, the coastal areas and interior oases support the vast majority of the population. Some cities have reported densities of 1,000 people per square kilometer. The Mecca region, which also contains the major city of Jiddah, is the most populated area of the country, with nearly 26 percent of the total population. Saudi Arabia is the second largest Arab state after Algeria by area and comprises the majority of the Arabian Peninsula. The total population in 2014 was 30,770,375. Out of this total, Saudi nationals constituted 67.28% and the remainder is comprised of migrants from the neighboring countries. These migrants are not given permanent residency and their stay in the country is subject to validity of their visa. Saudi Arabia is also reported to have over 2 million illegal migrants. Riyadh, which is the capital of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and also the largest city in the Kingdom, is home to about 7 million people. This accounts for 24% of the population of the whole country.

Since the 1930s Saudi Arabia has been a lucrative labor market for the foreign workforce owing to the spurring of oil field activities. Since foreign labor was relatively adept and cheaper compared to domestic labor, sponsors of businesses in Saudi Arabia quickly absorbed them into diverse jobs. The foreign laborers constitute the majority, especially in the private sector. Laborers in Saudi Arabia remit more money than those in any other country except the United States.

The remittances from foreign labor in Saudi Arabia account for 6.2% of the Kingdoms GDP. The private sector jobs were filled by foreign laborers. To cater to the rising demands of the nationals and to ensure fixed quotas of jobs for Saudi nationals, a number of measures were undertaken by the Saudi government: labor wages were increased; undocumented migrants (more than 2 million) were deported; and minimum quotas of local workers in different sectors were announced. The expulsion of foreign workers resulted in a downturn in the sectors which were the most dependent upon foreign labor, especially in the construction sector.

Numerous reports exist of maltreatment of workers in Saudi Arabia. Charges include forced labor, martial punishment, and using trafficking victims to meet labor needs. Foreign workers are particularly vulnerable to exploitation because contracts generally favor employers, and reporting a grievance to the labor courts often takes months. The government offers arbitration services between workers and employers in cases of alleged abuse.

The wages in banking and legal service sectors are at the high end of spectrum while administrative and household services are close to the minimum wage set by the ministry. The current minimum wages set by the Ministry of Labor are USD 800 for nationals and USD 162 per month for expatriates.

As of 2014 38.27% of government jobs were occupied by Saudi women. As a result of government initiatives, the employment rate of women is steadily increasing, and exceeding the employment rate of men. The highly educated Saudi women have been able to represent the country in many international organizations and occupy very high level government jobs. However, the participation of women in the private and government job market is still low. As a result of a nationwide campaign started by the Ministry of Labor, any store that does not meet the requirements of womens employment will be forced to shut down.

Life expectancy is the average number of years of life expected by a hypothetical cohort of individuals who would be subject during all their lives to the mortality rates of a given period. As per the data released by the United Nations, life expectancy at birth in Saudi Arabia gained 9.4 years from the period 1980-1985 to the period 2005- 2010, increasing from 64.9 years to 74.3 years. It is projected to reach 81.8 years for the period 2045- 2050

Total population growth rate in 2014 was 2.55%. Saudi population growth rate in 2014 was 2.1%. Population density (persons/sq km) in 2014 was 15.3. The density of population is calculated as the permanently settled population of Saudi Arabia divided by total area of the country. The total area is the sum of land and water areas within international boundaries and coastlines of Saudi Arabia. The total area of Saudi Arabia is 2,149,690 sq km according to the United Nations Statistics Division.

The population has risen considerably over the years. According to a census held in 1960, the population was about 4,041,000. The growth rate then increased greatly during the next 10 years. By 1980 the population had grown to 9,801,000, an increase of 69.8% and had further grown to 16,139,000 in 1990, a 64.7% increase. The next decade however, witnessed relatively slow growth and a population increase of 24.2%, with a total head count of 20,145,000 in 2000. A similar growth pattern was followed in the next decade and the total population stood at 24,690,000 in 2010. By 2014 the population grew by 24.62% and reached 30,770,000.

According to the forecast made by the UN, the growth rate of Saudi Arabias population is likely to decrease to 0.82% by the year 2030, and further fall to 0.11% during the next 30 years, by the year 2060.

As of 2014, the male population constituted 55.2% of the total population. The sex ratio of the total population was 1.233 (1,233 males per 1000 females) which is higher than the global sex ratio, 1.016 in 2014. The population of males has increased by 11.98% from 2010-15 while the population of females has increased by 17.89% in the same period.

Sex ratio at birth is an indicator of certain kinds of sex discrimination in some countries. For instance, high sex ratios at birth in some Asian countries are now attributed to sex-selective abortion and infanticide due to a strong preference for sons. This will affect future marriage patterns and fertility patterns. Eventually, it could cause unrest among young adult males who are unable to find partners. Sex ratio can vary within and between populations and change over time due to the affects of psychosocial, demographic and environmental factors capable of interfering with human reproduction.

The Saudi sex ratio at the time of birth is 1.05 males per female. It is important to note that abortion is prohibited in Saudi Arabia and only allowed for strict medical reasons that threatens maternal health. Therefore selective female fetacide is not a factor. For the under-15 age group, this ratio is 1.04 males per female; for the 15-64 age group, it is 1.03 males per female; and for the 65+ age group, it is 1.03 males per female.

For the total population, the mean ratio is 1.37 males per female. This ratio is quite remarkable, but seemingly not widely remarked on. It seems to reflect the large number of working-age guest workers. In 2005 the ratios range from 117.5 men for every 100 women in Saudi Arabia to a amazing 189.7 men for every 100 women in the UAE.



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Page last modified: 05-04-2019 18:55:12 ZULU