Saudi Arabia’s General Investment Authority (SAGIA) has extended the licensing period for foreign investors to five years – up from one year at present.

A statement sent by SAGIA to Zawya said that the licensing period can also be renewed upon expiry of the five-year period, and that foreign investors still have the option of holding a one-year licence.

The new licensing regulations are aimed at drawing more foreign investment into the kingdom and raising the country’s economic competitiveness, the statement added.

In the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ratings for 2018, Saudi Arabia has been ranked as second among the high-income, G20 countries, at reforms to improve business climates. It also ranked among the top 20 reformers of all of the 190 countries in the index.

SAGIA has undertaken several steps to ease investment processes in the kingdom, including launching a digital licensing facility where an investor can receive a licence electronically, potentially reducing the time required to obtain a business license from two days to four hours.

The kingdom has also introduced a broad set of reforms to its capital markets, to enhance its global investment appeal; the number of foreign investors in Saudi stock market has more than doubled over the past year alone, according to the chairperson of the exchange, Sarah Al Suhaimi.

A major reform of the kingdom’s legal system is also underway, the Saudi finance minister said earlier this year, for a more investor-friendly ecosystem. This includes a new mortgage pledge law, a franchising law, and the bankruptcy law approved last week.

(Reporting by Nada Al Rifai; Editing by Michael Fahy)


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