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Saudi Arabia


Click for a detailed map (PDF)

This map does not reflect a position by UNICEF on the legal status of any country or territory or the delimitation of any frontiers.

UNICEF's Gulf Area office coordinates projects in five nations: Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Nearly 42 per cent of this region's population is under the age of 18, lending great urgency to efforts on behalf of young people. Gross national income per capita is high in all five countries, but problems continue to arise when traditional values and customs clash with the modern global economy. The establishment of a fundraising office in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) has allowed UNICEF to streamline distribution of emergency relief and establishment of immunization and education programmes.

Issues facing children in the Gulf Area

  • The Gulf Area countries are on track to meet most of the Millennium Development Goals, although the pace of improvement has slowed since the 1990s.
  • Many residents of the region have not shared in the wealth created by record oil prices and revenues. Unemployment is high.
  • Net primary-school enrolment rates in the region average about 84 per cent, with little gender disparity. Pre-school enrolment rates, however, are only about 10 per cent.
  • Abuse of women and children, low minimum age for marriage and quality of school curricula are issues of concern, but there are few empirical statistics on these problems, making improved data collection another priority.
  • Investment in primary health-care infrastructure has improved child survival rates, though approximately 10 per cent of children under five are underweight region-wide.
  • Injuries and accidents, particularly those involving automobile traffic, are the leading causes of childhood morbidity and mortality.
  • Maternal mortality rates are low, and most deliveries are attended by medical professionals.
  • HIV/AIDS prevalence remains low, but there is a general lack of knowledge among the region's population about how the virus is spread.

Activities and results for children

  • In late 2005, an HIV/AIDS seminar held in conjunction with the World Health Organization and other United Nations agencies enhanced public awareness of the human rights issues involved in addressing the virus. Recommendations from the seminar included involving government ministries, religious leaders and community activists in a multi-sectoral approach; integrating HIV/AIDS information into the school curriculum; and ending the discrimination in employment and education faced by people living with HIV and AIDS.
  • The 'Youth to Youth on HIV Prevention' workshop, implemented in the Kingdom of Bahrain, was the first event of its kind in the region. Its aim was to empower and create awareness among young people to fight HIV/AIDS.
  • Civil-society organizations are being created in several Gulf Area countries. In addition to women's unions, new associations have been founded to advocate for the rights of the disabled.
  • The UNICEF/UAE Rehabilitation Programme for Children Formerly Involved in Camel Racing has been viewed as a model child-protection programme by the UAE Government and leaders in the other four involved countries (Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sudan and Mauritania).
  • Another child protection project to prevent child trafficking from Yemen to Saudi Arabia also has been recognized as a significant effort to combat trafficking in the Gulf Area.



Basic Indicators

Under-5 mortality rank


Under-5 mortality rate (U5MR), 1990


Under-5 mortality rate (U5MR), 2012


U5MR by sex 2012, male


U5MR by sex 2012, female


Infant mortality rate (under 1), 1990


Infant mortality rate (under 1), 2012


Neonatal mortality rate 2012


Total population (thousands) 2012


Annual no. of births (thousands) 2012


Annual no. of under-5 deaths (thousands) 2012


GNI per capita (US$) 2012


Life expectancy at birth (years) 2012


Total adult literacy rate (%) 2008-2012*


Primary school net enrolment ratio (%) 2008-2011*


Definitions and data sources [popup]

Source: The State of the World's Children

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