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Saudi Arabia’s research and development spending reached $5 billion in 2022

The government sector accounted for 58% of the nation’s R&D investments.

Saudi Arabia’s research and development spending reached $5 billion in 2022
[Source photo: Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

It’s a fact that the private sector would not, on its own, provide the amount of innovation that economies need to maximize their growth. Increased government research and development (R&D) spending is critical to increase rates of productivity and GDP growth. 

Also, using cutting-edge technologies developed elsewhere is impossible without highly trained locals, and such cadres are hard to produce and maintain without R&D spending. For a country, it’s essential to produce an immense number of people with skills, know-how, and curiosity, as well as institutions with the necessary equipment. 

It is notable that now, Saudi Arabia is making a strategic shift towards a knowledge-based economy, evidenced by its growing R&D investment to increase the sector’s share of GDP by $16 billion by 2040. 

According to new data from the General Authority for Statistics (GASTAT), Saudi Arabia’s R&D spending jumped by 32.7% year-on-year to $5.1 billion in 2022.

The report, released last week, showed the government sector is the largest source of funding, accounting for 58% ($2.9 billion) of the total, followed by the private sector funding, accounting for 39% ($2 billion) and education funding making up 3% ($39.4 million).

The number of researchers in Saudi Arabia also increased by 21.6% in 2022, reaching 30,160 people. The education sector accounted for the lion’s share of researchers, with 89%. The private sector accounted for 6%, and the government accounted for 5%.

The report’s findings highlight the Saudi government’s commitment to R&D, a key driver of economic growth and diversification. The government’s investment in R&D is also helping to create jobs and opportunities for Saudi nationals.

The R&D workforce surged by 43% in 2022 to 43,960, with the education sector accounting for 84% of the total, followed by the private sector, which employed 10% of the R&D workforce, while the government sector employed 6%.

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