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(From Gulf News)
Byline: Nadim Kawach
A surge in oil prices pumped an extra $33 billion into Saudi Arabia's coffers last year and allowed it to reverse an upward trend in its debt for the first time in many years.
The Gulf kingdom's public debt was estimated at around 650 billion Saudi riyals ($173 billion) at the end of 2003 compared with nearly 680 billion riyals ($181 billion) in 2002.
The decline slashed the ratio of the debt to the gross domestic product to nearly 80 per cent last year from 94 per cent in 2002, according to official figures.
"The decline in the debt for the first time in many years was a result of a sharp …