Posted on October 13, 2014

The petrochemical and chemical industry in the Arabian Gulf region employed 148,900 people in 2013, according to new data from the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA). Direct employment, along with that employed by supporting industries, led to the creation of an additional 446,700 jobs, bringing the total number of jobs that rely on the downstream hydrocarbon industry in the Arabian Gulf to 595,600 in 2013.

Strengthened by a rapidly expanding petrochemical sector and multi- billion dollar investments, Saudi Arabia’s petrochemical industry employed directly 83,700 people, accounting for over half of the Gulf’s petrochemical industry’s workforce. The United Arab Emirates is the region’s second largest market in terms of people, employing for 38,100 professionals, just over 25% of the region’s chemical employees. Employment statistics in the region show that for the GCC petrochemical industry, the multiplier effect is around 1:3, as every ten jobs directly created by the sector leads to an additional 30 indirect employment opportunities in the chemicals supply chain.   

“In 2013, the development of petrochemicals created a ripple effect that was responsible for more than half a million jobs in the GCC, resulting in the manufacture of over US$ 102 billion worth of products,” said Dr. Abdulwahab Al- Sadoun, Secretary General, GPCA. “Petrochemicals is evolving into an industry that touches nearly every sector of the GCC economy, from supply chain, equipment manufacturing, construction and agriculture to retail and trade.”

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The GCC’s petrochemical industry’s capacity has grown consistently at 9.5% year- on- year since 2008 and currently produces 140.5 million tons of products. Similarly, employment in the sector has risen cumulatively by 12.2% in the same period. Petrochemicals are now the region’s second largest manufacturing sector in terms of contribution to GDP and the largest manufacturing employer, after metals, minerals and the food industry. Furthermore, GCC nationals make up 56% of the industry’s workforce. Bahrain accounts for the highest number of nationals working in the industry, with 83% of the chemical workforce being Bahraini nationals, followed by Saudi Arabia, where 63% of the industry’s employees are Saudi nationals.

“Over the last few years, the Gulf’s petrochemical industry has developed a solid base of skilled human capital, which is a crucial component in ensuring the long term development of the industry. While the sector is taking solid steps towards economic and environmental sustainability, these strides would have little effect if it were not for human resources. After all, skilled talent is crucial for the industry’s growth and global competitiveness,” concluded Dr. Al- Sadoun.

The people aspect of sustainability will be a key focus during the upcoming GPCA Sustainability Conference. Now in its second edition, the annual event will be held from October 21- 23, 2014 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. For more information, please visit

Click here to see the infographics.