The price of petrol in Saudi is almost 22 times cheaper than in Norway, which has the world’s most expensive fuel, and at least half the cost of anywhere else in the GCC, a new report shows.
According to Cost of Living Reports Middle East (CLR), fuel in the oil-rich Kingdom costs on average 13c/L – making it the second cheapest in the world behind only Venezuela where fuel is subsidised and sold at a fixed price.
In Bahrain and Kuwait fuel prices are 21c/L, followed by Qatar (23c/L), Oman (31c/L) and the UAE (46c/L).
CLR found on a global comparison, Saudi petrol sold for 45c/gallon. By comparison, petrol in Norway was $10.08/gallon, followed by $9.55/gallon in Turkey and $8.89/gallon in the Netherlands.
The report found the UAE was the cheapest country in the GCC for buying a new car, with the cost of a small SUV on average $26,850 in the UAE compared to an average $39,000 in Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman, $40,487 in Saudi and $46,710 in Qatar.
Renting the same car cost $2,773 a month in Saudi – almost double the $1,391 cost for the same car in the UAE.
However, car registration costs were highest in the UAE at an average $198.45 a year for a SUV. This compared to $53 in Bahrain, $88.25 in Kuwait, $92.5 in Oman, $47.25 in Qatar and $81 in Saudi.
The report noted that the UAE was the only GCC state with road tolls, which are positioned on Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai. However, with 2.26 million registered vehicles in 2010-11 it was in response to traffic congestion in the growing city. It was also the only GCC country with a metro system, giving residents an alternative transport option.
The report said speeding fines were between $177 and $883 in Kuwait, with parking fines in Kuwait also topping the GCC at an average $177.
By comparison, a speeding ticket was between $133-$663 in Bahrain, $26-$130 in Oman, $135-270 in Qatar, $135-243 in Saudi and $162-$270 in the UAE. In Oman parking fines were $7.80 compared to an average $34 in Saudi, $41 in the UAE, $81 in Qatar and $159 on average in Bahrain.
In an analysis of hotels, the report said three-star hotels were cheapest in the UAE at $140 a night, followed by Qatar ($174), Saudi ($216), Oman ($218), Bahrain ($302) and Kuwait ($590).
For five-star hotels, CLR cited the Starwood Hotels International Index Q4 showing five-star hotel rates at the Sheraton Doha Resort & Hotel were $251 a night for Q4 2013, $300 a night at the Sheraton Kuwait, $217 at the Sheraton Bahrain and $378 at the Sheraton Riyadh.
Comparatively, during the same period a room at Le Meridien Cyberport Hong Kong was $187 a night, with other rates listed as Le Royal Meridien Picadilly London ($435/night), Le Royal Meridien National Moscow ($271/night), Le Parker Meridien New York ($309/night) and Le Meridien Etoile Paris ($201/night).
CLR head of operations Nicholas Nice said in 2013 the supply of hotels was divided unevenly across the GCC countries with Saudi holding 66 percent of rooms, the UAE 25 percent, Oman and Kuwait three percent, and Qatar and Bahrain two percent.
“This explains why hotels in Bahrain or Oman might be higher than that of the UAE,” he said. “The market in Bahrain and Oman is not as mature. This means the price can fluctuate massively, with a sharp increase or decrease in tourism or business traffic, in this sense it may not always enjoy guaranteed systematic demand.”