Saudi Arabia Most Risky of Emerging Economies, Maplecroft Says

Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest crude exporter, has the most uncertain political environment of 15 major growth economies including China and Russia, according to the founder of risk-assessment consultants Maplecroft.

The political peril this year in 12 of those nations is decreasing, while it is rising in Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Vietnam, Alyson Warhurst said at a conference in Dubai today. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the group which faces increasing short-term and long-term political threat, she said.

“Saudi Arabia faces three issues,” Warhurst said in an interview. “An educated and disgruntled youth buoyed by the success of the Arab Spring elsewhere, water and energy security, and general issues of oppression and the lack of political freedom.”

Saudi Arabia’s monarchy has avoided the plight of leaders in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya who were overthrown last year by youth-driven uprisings. King Abdullah announced a $130 billion government spending package for social and housing projects in an attempt to keep social unrest at bay.

The kingdom is the de facto leader of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which supplies 40 percent of the world’s crude oil. Saudi Arabia pumped 9.65 million barrels a day in January, almost a third of OPEC’s 30.9 million barrel-a-day output last month, data compiled by Bloomberg showed.

Turkey faces short-term dangers because of its legal and regulatory environment, while Vietnam is suffering from unrest and strikes as commodity prices rise, Warhurst said.

The 15 growth economies surveyed by Maplecroft were Brazil, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Mexico, Mongolia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Vietnam.

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