Well if they were referring to the Saudis---it's an untrue statement.
The country is a regional player but are in no way "world leaders"
I would refer to any head of a nation as a "world leader." Perhaps that was all the writer of that line meant.
Here is a list of the top 10 oil producing countries in the world:
- Saudi Arabia
- United States
So, we see from this list that some very large countries are in the top 10, including Russia, the US and Canada. Further, we see Iraq listed and I, for one, would agree with anyone that said Sadaam Hussein was a petty thug turned into a world leader by means of petroleum. After all, a coalition of several countries waged 2 wars against Iraq during his rule. He obviously had a bit of influence in world affairs.
Additionally, only 5 of these top 10 oil producing countries are members of OPEC.