Financial landscape of Saudi Arabia – statistics & facts


An important characteristic of the financial landscape of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is that it has been shaped in accordance with the Islamic finance principles. In 2020, the Saudi Arabian financial landscape generated about 377.73 billion Saudi Riyal.

Islamic banking

According to the Islamic doctrines in finance and business, paying or charging interest is prohibited. Further speculation and excessive risk-taking are not allowed. Companies complying with Islamic finance principles avoid investing in business fields such as producing and selling pork and alcoholic products. On the other side, investments according to Islamic finance principles encourage the sharing of profits and losses either through a partnership and joint venture or through a leasing agreement.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia held around a quarter of the global Islamic banking assets in 2019, right behind the Islamic Republic of Iran. At the same time, Saudi Arabia controlled 38 percent of the majority of the global Islamic fund assets. Over 40 percent of Islamic funds consist of equity, followed by the money market at around 25 percent.

Regional financial landscape

Besides Islamic finance and banking, Saudi Arabia was a major player in the region for the stock market. The Saudi Arabian Stock Exchange led in terms of traded share value in the Middle East right behind Borsa Istanbul. With 107 initial public offerings in 2016, Saudi Arabia was the leading country amongst all Gulf Cooperation Council countries. The highly anticipated IPO of the state-run oil company Saudi Aramco came through at the end of 2019, making it the world’s largest public company. The company sold 1.5 percent of its shares (about three billion) in the Saudi stock exchange, valuing the entire company at 1.7 trillion U.S. dollars. In terms of dividend payout in the Gulf Cooperation Council region, Kuwait led right ahead of Saudi Arabia. In terms of share of the market value of outstanding conventional and Islamic Sukuk bond insurances, Saudi Arabia was ranked third in the Gulf region right behind the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

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