In 2012, the country’s population stood at 29.2 million. There were only 19.8 million Saudi citizens in 2012 versus 9.4 million foreigners, showing a slightly more accelerated Saudi population growth rate. Under its ninth five-year plan, the country is striving to make foreigners account for a little over a quarter (26.6 percent) of the total population in 2014.
The average annual growth rate between 2004 and 2013 was pegged at 3.2 percent, but with vast fluctuations from year to year within that 10-year period. There was a 3.4 percent growth rate in both 2005 and 2006, fell dramatically to 0.5 percent in 2007, then climbed back up to 2.3 percent in 2008 and 2009. Growth rates then leaped to 7 percent in 2010, declining once again to 4.6 percent in 2011 and further to 2.9 and 2.7 in 2012 and 2013 respectively.
It is unclear if the numbers for foreigners include illegal immigrants or those who continue to stay in the country despite expired visas or changing sponsors without informing authorities. In November last year, the Saudi government had embarked on a crackdown which saw thousands of expatriates, mainly unskilled workers from South Asia, deported for staying in the country illegally.
GCC expat populations