New Saudi committee tasked to regulate foreign investments as Kingdom opens up

Chaired by the investment minister, the new committee will also set the limit for foreign ownership in local companies

  
The Kingdom Tower stands in the night in Riyadh. Image for illustrative purposes.

The Kingdom Tower stands in the night in Riyadh. Image for illustrative purposes.

REUTERS/Ali Jarekji
 
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has formed a new committee to regulate foreign investments and protect the Kingdom's critical sectors such as utilities.

The committee is tasked to create and implement a criterion for foreign investors, identifying a list of companies, individuals, and activities excluded from foreign investment, Argaam reported, citing a cabinet's decision.

Chaired by the investment minister, the new committee will also set the limit for foreign ownership in local companies.

“The setup of this committee is a sagacious decision which reflects the fast pace of change in the economic structure with the participation from foreign investors,” Mohammed Al-Suwayed, chief of Razeen Capital, said.

The committee comes as more foreign entities take an interest in entering the Saudi market as part of the government’s push to modernize its economy.

Saudi analyst Al-Suwayed said: “The committee is made to deal with the implications of national security and national resources including natural and critical types of resources.”

He said the decision to create the committee will protect the Kingdom from “broader political risk” if critical services such as utilities are controlled by foreign businessmen.

“Businessmen in Saudi have more access to public policymaking than any other stakeholders, and after allowing foreign businessmen to join the boards of Commercial Chambers, they're expecting to enjoy the same access and influence policymaking as well,” he explained.

Ministers of commerce, economy, planning, communications and information technology, heads of the Local Content Authority and the Capital Market Authority will also be part of the committee.

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