If oil stays around $50 a barrel, most countries in the region will run out of cash in five years or less, warned a dire report from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) this week. That includes OPEC leader Saudi Arabia as well as Oman and Bahrain, according to CNN.
Low oil prices will wipe out an estimated $360 billion from the region this year alone, the IMF said, CNN wrote.
Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil producer, needs to sell oil at around $106 to balance its budget, according to IMF estimates. The kingdom barely has enough fiscal buffers to survive five years of $50 oil, the IMF said.
That's why Saudi Arabia is moving fast to preserve cash. The kingdom not only raised $4 billion by selling bonds earlier this year, but its central bank has yanked up to $70 billion from asset management firms like BlackRock (BLK) over the past six months.
After years of huge surpluses, Saudi Arabia's current account deficit is projected to soar to 20% of gross domestic product this year, Capital Economics estimates. Saudi Arabia's war chest of cash is still humungous at nearly $700 billion, but it's shrinking fast.
According to CNN, the UAE, Kuwait and Qatar can survive decades of $50 oil.
However, a handful of countries are well positioned to face the storm. Topping that list are Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. That's partially because these countries don't need sky-high oil prices to balance their budgets.