One-fifth of Saudi population suffers from poverty

Oct 27, 2011 12:00 AM

Human rights activists in Saudi Arabia say one-fifth of the population in the Persian Gulf powerhouse lives in poverty.
The activists have released a short documentary, “Poverty in Saudi Arabia,” which zooms in on the lives of millions of poor people in the Arab kingdom. According to Saudi activists about 70 % of people in the country do not own their homes.

The video in question interviews people living in al-Jaradiyah neighbourhood, some 5 km away from the centre of the Saudi capital, Riyadh. One of the interviewees is a woman who lives with her six children. She complains about her dilapidated house and calls on King Abdullah to help her.
Among those interviewed is a mosque imam, who said the residents in the district are involved in drug dealing in their last resort to make a living. Some families force their children to sell drugs to collect money, while some force their daughters into prostitution, he regretted.

Activists in Saudi Arabia have repeatedly criticized Riyadh for spending vast sums on buying arms from the West and not helping the millions living in poverty. In 2010, Riyadh purchased over $ 60 bn worth of weapons from the United States, which Washington lauded as the largest arms deal in history.
Saudi Arabia is the world's largest oil exporter, with the black gold accounting for 90 % of the country's exports.

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