|08 December, 2019

Saudi Arabia is magnet for foreign investors

A recent World Bank report highlighted the Kingdom’s continued efforts to improve the business climate for domestic and medium-sized businesses

Image used for illustrative purpose. Elevated view of modern city center, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Image used for illustrative purpose. Elevated view of modern city center, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

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With the end of 2019 on the horizon, I would like to list my observations, as well as my own experience, concerning Saudi Arabia’s attractiveness to foreign direct investments (FDIs).

In the course of the year, be it entertainment, renewable and clean energy, pharmaceuticals or financials, Saudi Arabia has been a magnet for foreigners looking to invest.

These forms of investments may be direct by setting up joint ventures, buying a strategic stake in existing companies or investing in Saudi-listed companies via Tadawul, especially after the inclusion of MSCI and FTSI.

A recent World Bank report highlighted the Kingdom’s continued efforts to improve the business climate for domestic and medium-sized businesses. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia has a global rank of seven when it comes to protecting minority investors, scoring a perfect 10 on the extent of corporate transparency index.

The Kingdom also scores six out of eight on the reliability of supply and transparency of tariff index, higher than the Gulf Cooperation Council’s average score of 4.2.

Over the past three months, BMG Financial Group has been involved in discussions with Chinese, German, Austrian, UK and Egyptian companies that want to invest in the Kingdom by setting up joint ventures with Saudi partners in sectors including real estate, health care, waste management and electric batteries.

The Ministry of Commerce and Investments and its investment promotion arm, Saudi Arabia Investment Authority, have played a noticeable role in enhancing rules and regulations for FDIs. New directives by other government agencies have also contributed to the attractiveness of the Saudi market, including the issuing of touristic visas and the hosting of world-class events and performances.

These new laws and regulations have had an indirect positive impact on FDIs in the country as well.

Following the launch of Vision 2030, the current year has been exceptional. Not only have we witnessed new developments in terms of rules, regulations, announcements and world-class art and sports events almost on a weekly basis, we have also seen the successful conclusion of the largest initial public offering in history: Saudi Aramco.

The “Aramco factor” has added a positive global flavor to the attractiveness of Saudi-based investments.

As 2019 nears its end, I believe that we are entering a new era for the Saudi economy. The country is expected to host FDIs that will add value to the local economy, and generate attractive returns for local and international investors.

• Basil M.K. Al-Ghalayini is the Chairman and CEO of BMG Financial Group.

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