Size of the Gulf Economy Home About the Gulf Size of the Gulf Economy

Size of the Gulf Economy


The Gulf has a sizeable economy with a GDP of US$1.7 trillion, and is expected to rise in importance as economic growth shifts in an increasingly multi-polar world.

Diversification from hydrocarbons, increasing trade with Asia and historic resilience to economic stress are all reasons to anticipate the Gulf will continue to take a growing share of world trade.

The region’s key statistics highlight why this is such an attractive area for trade and investment. With a high and rising GDP per capita, the Gulf controls almost half of the world’s oil reserves and a similar proportion of its financial reserves.

The Gulf market – key facts

• Population approximately 47 million
• Area: 2.6 million square kilometres
• Nominal GDP approximately US$1.7tr
• Per capita GDP US$36,000
• Controls almost 40% of world oil reserves
• Controls almost 40% of global financial reserves

At a time when economic activity is anaemic across much of the globe, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reports that the Middle East and North Africa’s gross domestic product growth (real) was 2.4% in 2014, and forecasts growth of 2.7% in 2015.  Within this broad average, the Gulf’s oil exporters are growing fastest. The Gulf region’s young population is a major driver of medium-term growth, as it will lift consumption in the years ahead.

IMF Real GDP Growth

​Year 20114 2015f​
Kuwait 1.3% ​1.7%
​Qatar ​6.1% ​7.1%
​Saudi Arabia 3.6% 3.0%
​UAE 3.3% ​3.8%
Source: IMF World Economic Outlook, April 2015