|12 September, 2019

Foreign investors in Saudi Arabia eye construction, ICT, manufacturing licenses

Growth in licenses in Q2, 2019 was broad based, with increases across all ten main sectors

Image used for illustrative purpose. Aerial view of cityscape at night, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Image used for illustrative purpose. Aerial view of cityscape at night, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

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The number of new foreign investor licenses issued by Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) has more than doubled in the second quarter of 2019, thanks to the massive socio-economic reform projects initiated to realise kingdom's Vision 2030. 

According to SAGIA, 291 foreign investor licenses were issued in Q2, an equivalent of five new licenses a day, the investment authority said in a statement. 

The growth in licenses in Q2 2019 was broad based, with increases across all ten main sectors.

The sectors accounting for the most licenses were construction (61 licenses), ICT (51 licenses) and manufacturing (45 licenses), with significant investment also seen in the professional, scientific and technical sector, wholesale and retail trade, administrative and support services and hotels and restaurants.

Within two years, Saudi Arabia has implemented 55 percent of more than 300 economic reforms identified, such as opening up a wide range of economic sectors to foreign investment, including allowing 100 percent foreign ownership in a range of new sectors, SAGIA said.

“We continue to pursue further reforms to make it easier for international investors to play a role in our economic transformation in the years to come – bringing jobs, growth and opportunity to Saudi citizens,” said, Majed Al Qasabi, Minister of Commerce and Investment.

Securing a foreign investor license from SAGIA now requires two documents and can be processed in three hours – reducing the requirement from twelve documents, which would take three days to process.

While investors came from the United Kingdom (45 licenses), India (29 licenses) and the US (23 licenses) there was also significant investors from countries within the Arab world (Jordan, Egypt and UAE).

Ibrahim Al Omar, Governor, SAGIA, said: “As a G20 economy, Saudi Arabia’s rapid reform provides a real opportunity for international investors and we are seeing clear evidence that they are responding to it.”

SAGIA aims to place the kingdom among the top performing markets for investments and works in collaboration with other government entities to attract, retain and expand high-value investments.

(Writing by Seban Scaria seban.scaria@refinitiv.com, editing by Daniel Luiz)

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