On February 1, AGSIW hosted a panel discussion on Oman's economic and financial development.
Visiting Fellow, AGSIW
Tim Callen is a visiting fellow at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. Callen is a former assistant director in the Middle East and Central Asia department at the International Monetary Fund. He served as the IMF’s mission chief for Saudi Arabia and as the chief of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries’ division from 2012-21. He was responsible for the IMF’s engagement with the government of Saudi Arabia and for the institution’s research and publications on the country. He also led the IMF’s research program on the GCC region. From 2021-22, he served as special advisor to the executive director for Saudi Arabia at the IMF’s Executive Board. Callen’s research interests focus on oil exporting countries and include prospects and policies for economic diversification away from oil, frameworks and institutions to limit procyclical fiscal policy, and appropriate exchange rate policies. Callen joined the IMF in 1993 and also worked in the Asia and Pacific, Communications, and Research departments. Before joining the IMF, he worked in the Economic Departments at the Bank of England and the Reserve Bank of Australia and at Hambros Bank. He holds a bachelor’s in economics from the University of Essex and a master’s in economics from the University of Warwick.
On January 9, AGSIW hosted a virtual roundtable with its leadership and scholars as they looked ahead and assessed trends likely to shape the Gulf region and U.S. foreign policy during the coming year.
Positive developments in four indicators during 2024 – the female labor force participation rate, tourist arrivals, foreign direct investment inflows, and student educational attainment – will give confidence that the bold diversification plans underway in Saudi Arabia are on track.
AGSIW experts explain the regional trends they’ll be following most closely as the year unfolds.
The Saudi economy is likely to grow by around 1.5% in 2024 with the non-oil sector expanding by 3% to 4%. However, uncertainties are high, centering around the oil market, conflict in Gaza, path of U.S. monetary policy, and effects of domestic reforms.
Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund is likely to become the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund by the end of the decade, but raising the resources to fund its ambitious domestic investment program may increase economic and financial risks.
The Saudi government is ramping up spending as it seeks to support economic development and diversification, pushing the fiscal balance into deficit despite high oil prices.
Saudi Arabia’s economic diversification plans are showing signs of progress, although the economy remains heavily reliant on oil.
A thorough analysis of the government budget, debt, and net asset positions is needed to understand the fiscal situation in Saudi Arabia and any implications this may have for oil market policy.
Labor market data from the 2022 census is still to be published but once released could have important implications for the central goals of Vision 2030 given the recent large downward revision to population estimates.