Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia as a Humanitarian Donor: High Potential, Little Institutionalization

Originally published


Khalid Al-Yahya • Nathalie Fustier
GPPi Research Paper No. 14


Saudi Arabia has emerged as the world’s largest donor of humanitarian assistance outside the Western states, traditionally the members of OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC). In many recent natural disasters, the country’s contributions far exceeded those of any traditional donors. In 2007, in response to Cyclone Sidr in Bangladesh, which killed more than 3,000 people and left millions homeless, Saudi Arabia gave Bangladesh $158 million for humanitarian purposes, compared to $20 million from the United States and less from the United Kingdom (Smith 2010). Following the Haiti earthquake in 2010, the Saudi Kingdom made $50 million available to the Emergency Response Fund, a pooled funding mechanism set up by the United Nations. Saudi pledges for the ongoing response to the f loods that ravaged huge swathes of Pakistan in 2010 amount to $220 million - surpassing the pledges of all European donors taken together ($209 million) (Saudi Ministry of Interior 2010 and Smith 2010). In 2008, Saudi Arabia provided $500 million in cash to the World Food Program, the largest contribution in the Program’s history.