Stock - Saudi riyal / Saudi economy
In 2022, the remittances reached SR143.2 billion against SR153.5 billion the previous year. Illustrative image. Image Credit: Bloomberg file

Cairo: Remittances of foreigners working in Saudi Arabia showed a downward trend in 2023 for the second year in a row, standing at SR124.9 billion, their lowest in more than a decade, according to a Saudi report.

In 2022, the remittances reached SR143.2 billion against SR153.5 billion the previous year. Their highest level was recorded in 2015 when they surged to SR156.9 billion, Al Eqtisadia reported, citing data from the Saudi Central Bank. Last year’s figure was the lowest since 2011.

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However, the report noted a 19.8 per cent rise in the numbers of foreign workers in Saudi Arabia with their numbers in the private sector, exclusive the domestic labour, reaching 8.7 million at the end of 2023, the highest ever in this sector.

The drop in expatriates’ remittances was attributed to an increase in local spending due to the improved quality of life in Saudi Arabia and the burgeoning entertainment events and sightseeing sites. Another cited reason is the high cost of living for expatriates and their dependents.

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The kingdom is home to a large community of expat workers.

In recent years, Saudi Arabia has stepped up efforts to provide jobs to its citizens as part of an employment policy known as “Saudisation”.

Last May, the Saudi General Authority for Statistics, citing a recent census, put the kingdom’s total population at 32.2 million with foreigners making up around 13.4 million or 41.5 per cent.

Asian nationals from three countries accounted for over 42 per cent of the total foreigners in Saudi Arabia, according to the census figures.

Bangladeshi nationals took the lead with 2.1 million, or around 15.08 per cent of the overall expatriates in Saudi Arabia, followed by Indians with 1.88 million and Pakistanis with 1.81 million.

Yemenis ranked the fourth in expatriate terms with 1.8 million followed by Egyptians with 1.4 million, Sudanese with 819,000, Filipinos with 725,000 and Syrians with 449,000.