In his introduction to the annual report of the Saudi Development Fund (SDF), Minister of
Finance and National Economy Dr. Ibrahim Al-Assaf wrote that the Kingdom has been
positively contributing to the assistance of developing countries as well as participating
in Arab, regional and international organizations concerned with development. The SDF,
which was established in 1974, has become the major channel through which Saudi assistance
reaches developing countries. In fact, the Kingdom ranks first worldwide in the list of
donor countries, contributing in recent years around four percent of its Gross National
Product. Over the past 25 years, the SDF has issued about SR 21.6 billion (U.S. $ 5.8
billion) in soft loans to some 63 countries to finance more than 300 development projects.
In Africa alone, the SDF has funded 202 development projects in 42 nations. The
introduction went on to point out that on April 12, 1999, the Council of Ministers passed a
resolution allowing the SDF to undertake financing of national non-oil exports and
accordingly amended some articles of its constitution. This development reflects the Saudi
government's concern to promote the non-oil export sector, and the view that such exports
are of benefit not only to the Saudi economy, but the countries receiving them.