The managing director of the Washington-headquartered IMF, Christine Lagarde, is due to visit Riyadh on 4 February to seek Saudi Arabia’s investment in a $500bn bailout fund it is raising for indebted European nations.

High oil prices over the last few years have left Saudi Arabia in a position of great fiscal strength. The Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (Sama) has total assets of more than $500bn, enough to fund 2.5 years of government spending at current levels.

Saudi Arabia announced plans to spend SR690bn ($184bn) in its 2012 budget, although economists expect the figure to be closer to be closer to SR750bn.