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The Worst May Be Over for the Saudi Economy

  • GDP grew 1.2% in first quarter after shrinking in 2017
  • Non-oil growth accelerated but public spending is still key
Saudi Stock Exchange Ahead Of Aramco IPO
Photographer: Abdulrahman Abdullah/Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia’s economy is starting to emerge from the worst slowdown since the global financial crisis, if only due to rebounding oil prices and higher public spending.

Gross domestic product grew 1.2 percent in the first three months of 2018 compared with a year ago, the first expansion in five quarters, according to data released on Sunday. The non-oil economy grew 1.6 percent from 1.3 percent in the previous quarter, and analysts said the recovery will gain momentum later in the year as the impact of a government stimulus package filters through.