FDI in Saudi Arabia

Overview by Globlatrade.net:

FDI in Figures

Long hampered by its unattractive regulatory framework, foreign investment in Saudi Arabia recovered thanks to its accession to the WTO in late 2005 and especially thanks to the adoption of a more favorable investment legislation in April 2000.

Saudi Arabia is the main recipient of the foreign direct investments in the Gulf and Middle-East with USD 24.3b. FDI stocks are constantly on the increase. The Saudi Arabian government has invested massively in national infrastructures in order to attract investments. FDIs are among the most efficient means of diversifying national economy and providing investment for the young generations. The authorities welcome FDI according to their capacity to bring in technology, employ and train the workforce, aid economic development and valorize local raw materials.

With controlled inflation and relatively stable exchange rates, openness to foreign capital in upstream gas, as well as extensive privatization programs are among the advantages attracting the investors into the country. The dynamic performance of the banking sector is driving the growth of the non-oil sector. Lastly, access to the world's largest oil reserves, very low energy costs and a high standard of living are decisive factors for foreign investors.

Foreign Direct Investment 2007 2008 2009
FDI Inward Flow (million USD) 22,821 38,151 35,514
FDI Stock (million USD) 73,480 111,631 147,145
Performance Index*, Ranking on 141 Economies 55 33 17
Potential Index**, Ranking on 141 Economies 29 29 -
Number of Greenfield Investments*** 54 106 141
FDI Inwards (in % of GFCF****) 29.9 46.0 299.2
FDI Stock (in % of GDP) 19.2 23.9 40.5

Source: UNCTAD

Note: * The UNCTAD Inward FDI Performance Index is Based on a Ratio of the Country's Share in Global FDI Inflows and its Share in Global GDP. ** The UNCTAD Inward FDI Potential Index is Based on 12 Economic and Structural Variables Such as GDP, Foreign Trade, FDI, Infrastructures, Energy Use, R&D, Education, Country Risk. *** Green Field Investments Are a Form of Foreign Direct Investment Where a Parent Company Starts a New Venture in a Foreign Country By Constructing New Operational Facilities From the Ground Up. **** Gross Fixed Capital Formation (GFCF) Measures the Value of Additions to Fixed Assets Purchased By Business, Government and Households Less Disposals of Fixed Assets Sold Off or Scrapped.


FDI Inflows By Countries and Industry

Main Investing Countries 2005
Japan 50.0
U.A.E. 29.6
Bahrain 6.6
U.S.A. 1.8
Jordan 1.5
Main Invested Sectors 2005
Industry and Energy 64.3
Real Estate, Leasing and other related business activities 29.7
Financial Services and Insurance 3.7
Contracts 2.0

Source: Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA)

Form of Company Preferred By Foreign Investors
Joint stock companies and limited liability partnerships are the most attractive to foreign investors.
Form of Establishment Preferred By Foreign Investors
Joint stock companies and limited liability partnerships are preferred because a foreigner is not allowed to conduct business in Saudi Arabia as a sole proprietor.
Main Foreign Companies
Visit: 'Top Companies' at Saudi Business Centre (The Saudi Network).
Sources of Statistics
Central Department of Statistics (in arabic)

Return to top

Why You Should Choose to Invest in Saudi Arabia

Strong Points

Once Saudi Arabia became a member of WTO in 2005, the foreign investment climate in the Kingdom substantially improved. From an investor's point of view, the country's strong points are economic stability, the large local market with a high spending power (and a population of over 27 million), sound infrastructures and a well-regulated banking system.

Weak Points

The week points are the inadequate legal framework in resolving commercial disputes, the lack of transparency in applying the intellectual property legislation, the government imposed quotas of Saudi employees in companies, the delayed payment of some government contracts, a restrictive visa policy for all workers, a very conservative cultural environment and enforced segregation of the sexes in most business and social settings.

Government Measures to Motivate or Restrict FDI
According to the law on foreign direct investment, revised in 2000, foreigners are now allowed to invest in all sectors of the economy, except for specific activities on a “negative list”.  This list continues to shrink as Saudi Arabia attempts to liberalize trade.



Foreign investors are no longer required to take local partners in a number of sectors and may own real estate for company activities. They are allowed to transfer their company money outside the country and can sponsor foreign employees.


In order to facilitate investments in the Kingdom, the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) has set up an Investment Services Centre (ISC). The ISC must decide to grant or refuse a license within 30 days of receiving an application from an investor.


Any Comments About This Content? Report It to Us.

Read more See less
Hot Tips (1)
Post your content


Post content about FDI in Saudi Arabia and you will be listed here to receive requests for offers.

Contact our expert contributor
  • U.S. Commercial Service Poland

    U.S. Department Of Commerce, Poland