There’s a general misconception about the Arab world and that is the fact that most people believe every country in the region is rich due to the presence of crude oil in the region, and who wouldn’t? In 1999, the total GDP of all Arab countries was an estimated $531.2billion, a figure that skyrocketed when the GDP for the region hit $2.8 trillion back in 2011. Without doubts, there have been new developments and countries like Qatar, UAE, and Saudi Arabia have all been at the center of the huge economic upturn the region has been experiencing for years.
Over the years, the region has attracted huge number of visitors from all across the globe because of the tourism in most of the countries in the region. The Arab world which includes the Middle East and North Africa, has had a really steady economy, and according to a statement from the World Bank, “Economies of the Gulf region have been particularly active, implementing 35 business-climate-improving measures in the past year.” The region has been a huge provider to the improvement of the world economy at large, with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Kuwait ranking four of the world’s top 10 improvers with UAE at the summit of the list.
It is totally reasonable to think every country in the region is rich but the truth remains while some countries are doing well for themselves on the global market, some are lagging and really struggling to make ends meet, especially in a world that’s filled with technological improvements. Countries are basically ranked with GDP (Gross Domestic Product) which is the total value of goods and services over a certain period of time.
Below are the list of the top 5 richest and poorest Arab countries in 2021.
The Top 5 Richest Arab Countries
There’s something special about how Qatar manages to be on every rich list in the world. Qatar is the richest country in the world GDP per capita and that explains why it is also the richest in the Arab world. This feat comes as no surprise to many, considering the small population of the country with just 2.7 million. Qatar also has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world which is less than 1 percent.
2. United Arab Emirates
What comes to your mind when you hear the name, UAE? Definitely luxury! However, the country is more than just lifestyle and tourism (perhaps two of the biggest reasons why it’s on this list). A GDP per capita of $70,470 ranks UAE the 8th richest country in the world, and second in the Arab world. According to a tweet by Dubai Media Office, UAE’s financial sector development and reports had a significant growth with a 14% year-on-year increase in the total of active registered companies in the first half of 2019.
Compared to the first two countries on this list, Kuwait is the only country with least economic diversity as the country’s economy is overly dependent on crude oil. Just like in the Arab world, Kuwait is only one place behind the United Arab Emirates on the global list (9th). Kuwait is flanked by some of the most powerful Arab countries; Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran, and its strategic location coupled with huge oil reserves help the country rank as the 9th richest in the world, and the second in the Arab region.
4. Saudi Arabia
Just like Kuwait, Saudi Arabia’s economy is heavily dependent on the production and export of petroleum, making the country the second largest OPEC Member Country. Saudi Arabia, for all it’s worth, contributes to 18 percent of the world’s petroleum and that is why the country is highly regarded in the global market. A GDP per capita of $56.817 makes the country the fourth richest Arab country, and 15th richest country in the world.
A GDP per capita of $50,870 ranks Bahrain the fifth richest country in the Arab world and 23rd on the global level. Bahrain’s economy is thriving with the help of aluminum export, oil and natural gas resources and tourist attractions. Bahrain’s place on the world’s richest countries list is somewhat surprising as it ranks above countries like Canada, UK, France and Japan.
The Top 5 Poorest Arab Countries
Yemen is popular in the Arab world and globally for its warfare and that’s perhaps why it has still remained the poorest country in the region. The popular conflict in Yemen lasted for four years and it did nothing to improve the country’s economy, instead, it worsened it. As a result of the internal war, several infrastructures were destroyed and this made so many people homeless and jobless. Yemen’s GDP per capita of $2400 ranks it 178th in the world, making it one of the poorest countries worldwide.
The economic instability in Sudan is a result of the conflicts and protests that have been going on since 2011 between South Sudan and the rest of the country. At some point, there was a division of natural resources and this made the country’s GDP drop drastically to $4090, ranking it 148th on the global list and the second poorest country in the Arab region.
Morocco is a good country, no doubt but there are some internal issues responsible for the country’s retarded economic growth. Firstly, financial inequality is very rampant in the country as there’s a huge space between the rich and the poor in the country. Thus, the rich are always very rich while the poor are always very poor. Secondly, the rate of illiteracy in the country is quite high and a GDP per capita of $9280 ensures the country ranks 119th on the global list.
Jordan ranks 117th on the global list with a GDP per capita of $9650 which also makes the country one of the poorest Arab countries. The rate of unemployment in the country is very alarming, which is a result of the country’s steady-rising inflation. The country has unemployment of 19% and that of course will hamper the country’s economic growth both home and abroad.
Statistically, Libya used to be one of the richest countries in the region, and the wealthiest country in Africa but why has Libya’s economy experienced a huge downturn? Libya is a popular corrupt country and corruption has played a huge part in the country’s decline financially. War also played its part, and now Libya ranks 107th globally with a GDP per capita of $12,050.