Growth in Arab Gulf states will almost halve in 2009 on lower than expected oil prices amid the gloomiest global economic outlook in more than half a century, according to the IMF.

Masood Ahmed, the IMF’s regional director, said Gulf Co-operation Council states – which include Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – would see gross domestic product fall from 6.8% in 2008 to 3.5% this year.

In its October economic report, before the Opec oil producers’ cartel slashed production as the recession deepened, the IMF predicted a relatively moderate easing of growth in the GCC from 7.1% last year to 6.6% this year.

Financial Times