Saudi Arabia’s annual inflation rate remained at 1.6 per cent for the third month running in May, government data showed on Sunday, with higher housing rents still the main driver.

Housing rents rose 10.5 per cent from a year earlier underpinned by a 14.3 per cent rise in apartment rents, according to the General Authority for Statistics.

Overall, prices in the subcategory of housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels rose 8.7 per cent from the previous year.

Food and beverage prices rose 1.4 per cent year on year, while prices for hotels and restaurants rose by 2.5 per cent driven by a 1.9 per cent increase in the price of food services.

Prices of clothing and footwear fell 4 per cent from the previous year, and vehicle purchase prices dropped 4.1 per cent to bring overall transportation costs down by 2.4 per cent.

On a monthly basis, prices rose 0.2 per cent in May from April.

At below 2 per cent year to date, inflation has remained relatively subdued in Saudi Arabia compared with global levels, with government policies helping limit the impact of international price increases.