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Arab oil states: the devil's in Opec's data

The group's latest figures show Gulf oil states' earnings have plummeted, while the region's population keeps rising

The urgent need for Arab oil producers to introduce economic reforms that lead to financial savings and new jobs is clearly shown in Opec's 2017 Annual Statistical Bulletin. Between 2012 and 2016 the populations of the seven states (Algeria, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) grew by 10% (see table). Yet the ability of these states to cope with the continuing rise in the number of inhabitants has declined because over the same period revenue from exports fell by 45% (see graph). The biggest population increase—a rise of 3.676m—was in Iraq, where the public purse is already being hit by low oil prices, expenditure on the war against Islamic State (IS) and

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