Saudi Arabia seeks foreign direct investment to help diversify the economy away from oil.
Monday 29, April 2019
(Bloomberg) -- The Saudi Arabia General Investment Authority (SAGIA) said that the number of new licences approved for foreign businesses in Saudi Arabia rose by 70 per cent in the first quarter from a year earlier.
Ibrahim Al Omar, the Governor of SAGIA, said that applications from British and Chinese companies drove the increase, rising by 86 per cent and 71 per cent, respectively.
The fastest-growing industries were education, which the Kingdom only opened to foreign investors in November, and information and communications technology, added Al Omar.
The year-on-year growth in foreign licences follows Saudi efforts to remove restrictions on international investments. Yet, fresh foreign direct investment in the country has been modest.
SAGIA is working with the World Bank to improve its ranking on the ease-of-doing-business index, where it currently ranks 92 among 190 countries.
“We are reviewing all licencing requirements, and you will see a 50 per cent drop overall from government departments in terms of the time, cost and number of requirements to invest in Saudi Arabia,” Al Omar said.