Missile threats won’t spook Saudi Arabia’s economy: Finance minister

“We’ve received in the last two years or so about 100-plus missiles, all have been intercepted successfully, and our economy was not impacted at all,” Al-Jadaan said.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects Saudi growth at 1.8 percent for 2018 after suffering its first contraction last year since 2009. Oil prices, seeing multi-year highs, are expected to boost the economy. But the Kingdom would need oil to hit averages of $85 to $87 a barrel to balance its budget, the IMF said. Its current deficit is projected at 7.3 of GDP for 2018, and it aims to balance the budget by 2030.

The Saudi government says Houthi rebels have fired at least 116 missiles at the kingdom since it went to war in Yemen in 2015, and claims that all have been intercepted.

The missile launches were in response to Saudi Arabia’s airstrikes on the impoverished country, which began in 2015 when the Houthis gained control of much of eastern Yemen and territory along the Saudi border after overthrowing its President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi in late 2014. Saudi claims its involvement is in support of the president, who it seeks to put back in power.

The Houthis are being bolstered by Shia ally Iran in the form of advanced weaponry and military advisors. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has accused the Islamic Republic of “direct military aggression,” ramping up the stakes between the longtime adversaries. Iran denies it supplied missiles to Yemen.

Last March marked the third year of Saudi Arabia’s involvement in Yemen’s bloody civil war, where its aerial bombing campaign has been widely criticized as indiscriminate and in violation of international law. The protracted conflict has killed more than 10,000 people and displaced 3 million, according to the UN.