Saudi Arabia posted a $800mn budget deficit for the first quarter of 2023 according to the latest figures from the Ministry of Finance. This leaves the kingdom facing an uphill task to secure a second consecutive annual surplus amid lower oil prices. The ministry has budgeted for a $4.3bn surplus this year, but the weakening of energy markets in recent months casts that in doubt.

The IMF in its latest Regional Economic Outlook (REO) for the Middle East, released last week, forecast that Saudi Arabia will run a deficit of 1.1% of GDP for 2023, flipping from a 2.5% surplus for 2022. (CONTINUED - 813 WORDS)