Total consumption loans as well as credit card loans given by Saudi banks during the first six months of this year amounted to SR217.5 billion, according to statistical figures issued by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA).
"The figure is 20.4 percent more than the personal consumption loans (SR180.7 billion) given by Saudi banks during the same period in 2006," a statistical report said.
Bankers expected remarkable increase in personal loans in the coming five years as a result of increasing population with 75 percent people being under 40 years of age. This will naturally increase demand for goods and services as well as personal bank loans.
Loan-term loans (that are given for more than three years) accounted for the lion's share of 44.3 percent of loans extended by Saudi banks or SR118.6 billion while medium-term loans (for one to three years) amounted to SR59.4 billion.
"Short-term loans, which are usually given for a year or less than a year, were valued at SR35 billion and accounted for 15.3 percent of the total," the report pointed out. Total loans given through credit cards amounted to SR7.6 billion during the period.
Compared to last year, the volume of credit card loans declined by 9.1 percent from SR8.4 billion in the fourth quarter of 2010 to SR7.6 billion in the second quarter of 2011.
Officials working for Saudi banks said there was a reasonable increase in loans during 2010 despite the global financial and economic crisis. "This is a good indicator as it will boost the national economy," one official said, adding that such personal loans would contribute to improving the standard of living of citizens.
The officials also pointed out that a substantial part of loans has been spent on real estate and it amounted to SR146 billion or 32.8 percent of the total loans. The volume of loans jumped by 5.6 percent within three months from SR137.8 billion in the first quarter to SR146 billion in the second quarter.
The report also noted a 9.1 percent growth in personal loans other than car, equipment and real estate loans from SR132.7 billion in 2006 to SR146 billion in the second quarter of 2011. During the same period, car and equipment loans jumped 24.3 percent from SR34.2 billion in 2006 to SR45.6 billion in 2011.
The report unveiled a big jump in real estate financing during the last six months from SR13.7 billion in 2006 to more than SR26 billion in the second quarter of 2011, registering a growth of 47.5 percent.
Bank officials said they don't face any problems in giving personal loans as the loans are linked with salaries of their beneficiaries. SAMA has instructed banks that the monthly deductions should not exceed one-third of an employee's salary. It also fixed five years as the maximum time limit for repayment.
Financial experts, meanwhile, advised Saudis to invest loans in real estate, household utensils and durable things rather than spending them on travel and tourism.
Earlier this year, SAMA Gov. Muhammad Al-Jasser launched a new system to assess the performance of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in order for banks to finance them with confidence and without hesitation. "This assessment system removes one of the major obstacles facing the development of SMEs," he said.