Saudi Arabia’s Top 10 Exports

Saudi Arabia’s flag


Saudi Arabia shipped US$207.6 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2016, up by 8.2% since 2009 when the Great Recession kicked in and up by 3% from 2015 to 2016.

Saudi Arabia’s top 10 exports are concentrated, accounting for 94.1% of the overall value of Saudi’s global shipments.

Based on statistics from the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook Database, Saudi Arabia’s total Gross Domestic Product amounted to $1.796 trillion as of April 2017. Therefore, exports accounted for about 11.6% of total Saudi economic output.

Given Saudi Arabia’s population of 28.2 million people, its total $207.6 billion in 2016 exports translates to roughly $7,400 for every resident in that country.

Saudi Arabia’s unemployment rate was 5.7% as of October 2016 down from 5.6% in December 2015 according to Trading Economics.

Saudi Arabia’s Top 10 Exports

Top 10

The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Saudi global shipments during 2016. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Saudi Arabia. Crude and refined petroleum oils represents Saudi Arabia’s leading export products.

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: US$163.7 billion (78.9% of total exports)
  2. Plastics, plastic articles: $14.4 billion (7%)
  3. Organic chemicals: $7.6 billion (3.7%)
  4. Ships, boats: $2.4 billion (1.1%)
  5. Aluminum: $1.9 billion (0.9%)
  6. Machinery including computers: $1.6 billion (0.8%)
  7. Dairy, eggs, honey: $1.2 billion (0.6%)
  8. Vehicles : $1.1 billion (0.5%)
  9. Electrical machinery, equipment: $1.1 billion (0.5%)
  10. Gems, precious metals: $1 billion (0.5%)

Aluminum was the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up by 262.5% in value over the 7-year period starting in 2009.

In second place for improving export sales were plastics up by 128.1%.

Saudi-shipped organic chemicals posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 52.3%.

The top 10 Saudi exports had only two decliners, specifically electrical machinery and equipment exports (down by -21.3%) and exported vehicles (down -14%).


Overall, Saudi Arabia earned a $77.8 billion surplus in 2016 down by -21.7% from $99.4 billion during 2009.

The following types of Saudi product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.

In a nutshell, net exports is the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: US$162.9 billion (Up by 0.04% since 2009)
  2. Plastics, plastic articles: $11.5 billion (Up by 150.2%)
  3. Organic chemicals: $6.1 billion (Up by 61.2%)
  4. Ships, boats: $1.5 billion (Up by 122.1%)
  5. Fertilizers: $789.1 million (Down by -21.7%)
  6. Aluminum: $555.5 million (Down by -169%)
  7. Inorganic chemicals: $95.1 million (Down by -149.7%)
  8. Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $57.2 million (Down by -26.2%)
  9. Collector items, art, antiques: $22.8 million (Down by -381.5%)
  10. Nickel: $8.1 million (Down by -766.3%)

Saudi Arabia has highly positive net exports in the international trade of petroleum, particularly crude oil but also refined oils and petroleum gases. In turn, these cashflows indicate Saudi Arabia’s strong competitive advantages under the mineral fuels including oil category.


Below are exports from Saudi Arabia that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Saudi Arabia’s goods trail Saudi importer spending on foreign products.

  1. Vehicles: -US$16.6 billion (Up by 44.7% since 2009)
  2. Machinery including computers: -$16.2 billion (Up by 3.5%)
  3. Electrical machinery, equipment: -$13.3 billion (Up by 54.6%)
  4. Pharmaceuticals: -$4.3 billion (Up by 43.9%)
  5. Articles of iron or steel: -$3.4 billion (Down by -1.9%)
  6. Iron, steel: -$2.9 billion (Up by 46.1%)
  7. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$2.7 billion (Up by 30.7%)
  8. Aircraft, spacecraft: -$2.3 billion (Up by 26.8%)
  9. Cereals: -$2.1 billion (Down by -40.7%)
  10. Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): -$2 billion (Up by 45.4%)

Saudi Arabia has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for vehicles, notably fully assembled cars and trucks.


Saudi Export Companies

Twenty Saudi corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000 for 2015. The following companies are selected examples of leading companies headquartered in Saudi Arabia:

  • Saudi Basic Industries (diversified chemicals)
  • Saudi Arabian Fertilizers (specialized chemicals)
  • Savola Group (food processing)
  • Saudi Arabian Mining (diversified metals, mining)
  • Petro Rabigh (diversified chemicals)

Wikipedia also lists exporters from Saudi Arabia. Selected examples are shown below:

  • Saudi Aramco (oil, gas)
  • Saudi Basic Industries (diversified chemicals)
  • Saudi Arabian Fertilizers (specialized chemicals)
  • Savola Group (food processing)
  • Saudi Arabian Mining (diversified metals)
  • Petro Rabigh (diversified chemicals)
  • Almarai (food processing)
  • Tasnee (petrochemicals)

According to global trade intelligence firm Zepol, the following firms represent smaller exporters from Saudi Arabia:

  • Al Abeiry PVC Hose Factory (tubes/pipes/hoses, building/monument granite, furniture)
  • Batook Chewing Gum Industries (turpentine oils, menthol, wines)
  • Saudi Aramco Oil (petroleum)
  • Saudi Basic Industries (acyclic hydrocarbons, polyethylene)
  • Yamama Granite Marble (building/monument granite, wooden boxes/cases/crates)

Saudi Arabia’s capital city is Riyadh.

Please note that the results listed above are at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level.

See also Saudi Arabia’s Top 10 Major Export Companies, Highest Value Saudi Arabian Import Products, Top Middle Eastern Export Countries and Saudi Arabia’s Top 10 Imports

Research Sources:
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on April 22, 2017

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on April 22, 2017

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on April 22, 2017

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on April 22, 2017

Wikipedia, List of Companies of Saudi Arabia. Accessed on April 22, 2017

Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on April 22, 2017

Zepol’s company summary highlights by country. Accessed on May 28, 2016