By Courtney Trenwith
Kingdom’s population rises despite exodus of expats during amnesty on illegal workers
Saudi Arabia’s population surpassed 30 million for the first time in 2013, according to the government’s Central Department of Statistics and Information (CDSI).
The centre also estimates the number of people living in the oil-rich kingdom – the largest and richest in the Gulf – will climb to 37.2m by 2020, according to local media.
Saudis account for about 20.3m people, while expatriates make up one-third. It is not clear whether the data takes into account the more than 1m expats who left the kingdom last year during an amnesty on illegal workers.
The country's five-year plan calls for reducing expatriates to 26.6 percent by 2014.
The ratio of nationals to expats is a highly contentious issue in Saudi Arabia, where foreigners are relied on in industries including construction, retail and teaching.
Last week the Labour Ministry revealed it issued 1.7m work visas during 2013.
The population rate of 2.7 percent last year was about half of Dubai’s 5 percent.
It also was lower than the average annual population growth during the past 10 years of 3.2 percent.
The CDSI expects the average annual population growth to remain consistent for the rest of the decade, with the population reaching 31.2m in 2014, 32.2m in 2015, 33.2m in 2016, 34.3m in 2017, 35.5m in 2018, 35.5m in 2019 and 37.2m in 2020.
what exodus...they have imported 1.7M New workers in 2013.