The population of Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, will not exceed 26 million this year, a government official said in remarks published on Sunday.
Population growth is one of the biggest challenges for the Gulf Arab state which needs to create tens of thousands jobs and housing for its mostly young natives.
To determine exact population figures the U.S. ally is holding a rare census from this month, the first one since 2004.
The total population, including expatriates, hit 25 million last year and with an assumed growth of 500,000 is not expected to exceed 26 million this year, Abdullah Batil, deputy head of the census project, told Saudi daily al-Hayat.
He gave no further details but the Central Department of Statistics and Information put the number of Saudis of the total population of 25.37 million at 18 million.
Saudi Arabia has pledged investments worth $400 billion to diversify its economy and create new jobs outside the oil industry. It plans a mortgage law to boost home ownership.