The petrochemical and chemical industry in the Arabian Gulf region is showing strong growth, creating thousands of jobs and attracting multi-billion dollar investments.

Its capacity has grown at a consistent rate of around 9.5% year-on-year since 2008 and the industry currently produces 140.5 million tons of products, the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA) said on Monday. Over the same period, employment in the sector has risen cumulatively by 12.2%.

In 2013 the industry employed 148,900 people, according to new data from the GPCA. More than half of this workforce was in Saudi Arabia, where 83,700 people were directly employed in the petrochemical industry. A further quarter worked in the United Arab Emirates, which counted 38,100 employees in the sector.

And an even greater number of jobs were supported by the industry: according to the GPCA, employment statistics in the region show that for every 10 jobs directly created by petrochemical and chemical employers in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, an additional 30 indirect employment opportunities are created in the chemicals supply chain.

"In 2013, the development of petrochemicals created a ripple effect that was responsible for more than half a million jobs in the GCC, resulting in the manufacture of over $102 billion worth of products," commented Dr. Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun, secretary general of the GPCA. "Petrochemicals is evolving into an industry that touches nearly every sector of the GCC economy, from supply chain, equipment manufacturing, construction and agriculture to retail and trade."

Across the region, petrochemicals now represent the second largest manufacturing sector in terms of contribution to GDP.