Provide information on the political economy of Saudi Arabia's overseas aid assistance – both through formal and informal routes to the MENA region and also to fragile contexts such as Sudan, Somalia, Afghanistan and Pakistan. It would be useful to understand more about the motivations and systems for delivery of this aid and what the varied objectives are (political, religious, altruistic, etc.)
The Saudi Arabian aid system is fragmented and complex, and much of it is privately and secretively channelled through the Saudi ruling families. As such, data on Saudi Arabia’s aid contributions is incomplete, and there is limited information and analysis available in the public domain. Much of the available literature is regional in scope and explores the aid systems, modalities and motives for ‘Gulf’ or ‘Arab’ donors in general rather than Saudi Arabia specifically. Consequently, whilst an attempt has been made to identify information specific to Saudi Arabia, relevant arguments and analysis pertaining to Arab donors in general are also included in this report. There is also a paucity of information and analysis on Saudi Arabian aid to fragile and conflict-affected states, even to those states with which Saudi Arabia has long-standing and close relationships, such as Pakistan.
Despite the lack of available information, the literature suggests that Saudi Arabia is an extremely generous donor, both in terms of humanitarian assistance and longer-term development aid. It has been the largest donor of overseas development assistance (ODA) in the world since 1973, as measured by ODA per gross national income (ODA/GNI). It has also become the largest donor of humanitarian assistance outside the member states of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee (OECD DAC).
Bakrania, S. Political Economy of Saudi Arabia&#8217;s Overseas Aid Assistance (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report). Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK (2012) 10 pp.