The creation of new jobs for Saudi nationals in a growing private sector is the key for the kingdom's economy in the future, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said.
Following a visit to Saudi Arabia, Christine Lagarde said job creation and access to housing were "clear priorities" for the country.
In a statement, she said: “In my discussions, I commended the Saudi authorities for their progress in preserving financial stability despite the difficulties experienced in global financial markets, and we discussed the next steps in deepening financial markets to provide more support for growth.
"Accelerating private-sector growth that can generate employment opportunities for Saudi nationals entering the labor market will be key," she added.
Lagarde said the Saudi economy had navigated the global financial crisis well, allowing the government to boost expenditure to support demand during the crisis.
She added that Saudi Arabia’s policies had had "an important positive impact on the region and the global economy".
However, she said challenges still remained in the kingdom.
"Access to housing and job creation are clear priorities and initiatives are underway in both these areas," the IMF chief said, adding that the organisation was ready to help with its expertise.
During her visit to the kingdom, Lagarde met with King Abdullah and discussed with him recent economic developments in the region and the global and local economic situation.
"We also exchanged views on the important and constructive role that Saudi Arabia continues to play in supporting economic development in the region," she said.