Investment Opportunities in Saudi Arabia

Overview by

Protection of Foreign Investment

Bilateral Investment Conventions Signed By Saudi Arabia
Saudi Bilateral Investment Agreements
International Controversies Registered By UNCTAD
Visit UNCTAD website mentioning the dispute between Saudi Arabia and the investor country.
Organizations Offering Their Assistance in Case of Disagreement
ICCWBO , International Chamber of Commerce
ICSID , International Center for settlement of Investment Disputes
Member of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency

Country Comparison For the Protection of Investors

  Saudi Arabia Middle East & North Africa United States Germany
Index of Transaction Transparency* 9.0 6.3 7.0 5.0
Index of Manager’s Responsibility** 8.0 4.6 9.0 5.0
Index of Shareholders’ Power*** 4.0 3.4 9.0 5.0
Index of Investor Protection**** 7.0 4.8 8.3 5.0

Source: Doing Business

Note: *The Greater the Index, the More Transparent the Conditions of Transactions. **The Greater the Index, the More the Manager is Personally Responsible. *** The Greater the Index, the Easier it Will Be For Shareholders to Take Legal Action. **** The Greater the Index, the Higher the Level of Investor Protection.

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Procedures Relative to Foreign Investment

Freedom of Establishment
Not guaranteed
Acquisition of Holdings
Competent Organization For the Declaration
Ministry of Finance, Saudi Arabia
Requests For Specific Authorizations
Saudi Arabia maintains a Negative List that tabulates sectors not open to foreign investment (visit SAGIA site). The sectors currently closed to foreign investment include three manufacturing categories and 13 service industries. The list includes real estate investment in Mecca and Medina, some sub-sectors in printing and publishing, audiovisual and media services, land transportation services excluding the inter-city transport by trains, and upstream petroleum. SAGIA periodically reviews the list.
Find Investment Service Providers in Saudi Arabia on

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Office Real Estate and Land Ownership

Possible Temporary Solutions

There are ready-to-move-in offices available on rent in various business parks across Kingdom's main cities.

However in case the foreign company is of national interest, the Saudi government may provide temporary space for a limited period till the company establishes itself in the country.

The Possibility of Buying Land and Industrial and Commercial Buildings
Risk of Expropriation
Negligible. No such case has been reported so far.

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Investment Aid

Forms of Aid

The government has created industrial sites attracting foreign investors in Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam, Qaseem, Al-Ahsa and Makkah. The setting up of a subsidiary allows tax exemptions for 5 years. The State provides with electricity, water, low prices when industrial plans are involved. The government encourages partnership with local companies, granting more aids and advantages to companies whose capital is shared with Saudis. The Department of Industry and Electricity, the Department of Finance should be contacted in order to know the various helps granted to foreign investors.

Foreign investment that fulfills the requirements of the Foreign Capital Investment Code enjoys all privileges of national capital and is entitled to the same treatment, protection, and incentives accorded to national capital which includes exemption from customs duties on machinery, equipment. The SAGIA (Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority) may be contacted for further information about investment laws and opportunities in Saudi Arabia.

Privileged Domains

The government encourages investment in transportation, education, health, information and communications technology, life sciences and energy. However foreign investment in petroleum and mineral projects is not encouraged.

Privileged Geographical Zones

The government has set up six “Economic Cities” located in Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam, Qaseem, Al-Ahsa and Makkah in order to attract foreign investment. These cities will focus on focusing on different industries.

Free Zones

Saudi Arabia does not have duty-free zones or free ports.

However Saudi Arabia is a member of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Arab League. Saudi Arabia grants special trade and investment privileges to members of (GCC) allowing free movement of local goods. Arab League has also agreed to negotiate an Arab free trade zone.

Organizations Which Finance
Saudi Industrial Development Fund


Saudi Arabian Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC)

Islamic Development Bank

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Investment Opportunities

The Key Sectors of the National Economy
Oil sector
High Potential Sectors
Franchising, Tourism, Banking
Privatization Programs
The Supreme Economic Council announced a privatization program in 2002, which would allow privatization of 20 state-owned companies in a phased manner. These companies belong to sectors like: telecommunication, water and drainage; saline water desalination; mining; power; air transportation and related services; railways; some sectors of roadways; post services; flour mills and silos; seaport services; some municipality services; some educational and social services; some agricultural services; some health services, etc.
Tenders, Projects and Public Procurement
Saudi Tenders
Tenders Info, Tenders in Saudi Arabia
DgMarket, Tenders Worldwide

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Sectors Where Investment Opportunities Are Fewer

Monopolistic Sectors
Telecommunications, Electricity
Sectors in Decline

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