(Bloomberg) --

Saudi Arabia’s non-oil sector, the engine of job creation, grew at the fastest pace in more than a year and helped the kingdom record the fastest overall growth among major global economies. 

The non-oil economy grew an annual 6.2% during the fourth quarter of last year, the highest level since the third quarter of 2021, flash estimates from the General Authority for Statistics showed Tuesday. The oil economy rose 6.1% during the same period, thanks to high global crude prices. 

Overall growth was an estimated 8.7% last year, the Saudi projections showed. That’s on a par with forecasts from the International Monetary Fund, which show the kingdom leading the ranks of top economies ahead of India at 6.8%. The only major country to shrink last year was Russia. 

In its latest world outlook, the Washington-based fund raised its global growth outlook for the first time in a year, saying it sees a “turning point” for the world with resilient US spending and China reopening. 

Saudi Arabia and its Persian Gulf neighbors have been so far shielded from global economic woes as Brent crude, their main source of income, averaged nearly $100 per barrel in 2022, fueled by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine almost a year ago.

Read: IMF World Economic Outlook Update: Projections Summary 

Last year, Saudi officials announced a spending boost that will sharply narrow this year’s budget surplus. The major oil producer said it was looking to tackle the impact of inflation and use its oil windfall to accelerate the development of economic diversification projects.

Saudi Arabia will use the surplus to replenish its reserves, make additional transfers to sovereign wealth funds, and potentially boost spending on projects intended to help diversify the economy away from a reliance on crude sales, officials have said. 

--With assistance from Anup Roy.

(Updates with chart, more context throughout.)

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