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Business Opportunities in Saudi Arabia


About Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is located in the South-west of Asia. Bounded by the red seaFrom the West Jordan, Iraq, and Kuwait from the North Arabian Gulf, Bahrain,Qatar and United Emirates from the East Yemen and Oman from the South.

Country Name

Conventional Long Form:

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Conventional short form:

Saudi Arabia

Local Long Form :  

Al-Mamlakah al-Arabiyah as-Suudiyah

local short form:

Al-Arabiyah as-Suudiyah

Abbreviation: KSA      Internet: .sa

Administrative divisions

13 provinces (mintaqat, singular - mintaqah); Al Bahah, Al Hudud ash Shamaliyah, Al Jawf, Al Madinah, Al Qasim, Ar Riyad, Ash Sharqiyah (Eastern Province), 'Asir, Ha'il, Jizan, Makkah, Najran, Tabuk


name: Riyadh
geographic coordinates: 24 38 N, 46 43 E
time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Main Cities

(The Capital)
(The most sacred place to Muslims, and their praying direction)
Al Madinah
(Second most sacred place)
(Saudi capital of business, an important
port ,and a major gateway to pilgrims) .
(Capital of Eastern region, well-off oil, and an important port) .
( A military city , the location of Saudi Aramco`s
headquarter which the largest oil company in the world .
(Capital of Northern region)

National Day

23rd, September. (1932 A.D)

The King

chief of state: King and Prime Minister ABDALLAH bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud (since 1 August 2005)

Crown Price

Crown Prince SULTAN bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud (half brother of the monarch, born 5 January 1928)

Political System


Legal system

Supreme Council of Justice; based on Shari'a law, several secular codes have been introduced; commercial disputes handled by special committees


total: 2,149,690 sq km
land: 2,149,690 sq km
 Location: 25 00 N, 45 00 E


GMT + 3:00

Daylight Saving Time

Saudi Time does not operate Daylight-Saving Time

International Dialing Code



Saudi Riyal

Exchange Rate

Saudi riyals per US dollar - 3.745 (2007), 3.745 (2006), 3.747 (2005), 3.75 (2004), 3.75 (2003)


The official language is Arabic. English is widely understood and ranks alongside Arabic as the language of commerce




27.019.731 million (2006); 27,601,038 (note: includes 5,576,076 non-nationals July 2007 est.)

GDP p/ capita

$20,700 (2007 est.)

Real GDP Growth

4.7% (2007 est.)

Non-Oil Sector Contribution to Nominal GDP


GDP-Composition by sector

Agriculture: 3%
industry: 61.8%
services: 35.2% (2007 est.)

Foreign Direct Investment



Oil & Gas, Aluminum, Cement, Fertilizers, Commercial Ship Repair, Petrochemicals,
Construction Materials, Pharmaceuticals, Tourism

Oil Production

11 million Bbl/day (2007 est.)

Oil Proven Reserves

266.8 billion Bbl (1 January 2006 est.)

Natural Gas Production

68.32 billion cu m (2005 est.)

Natural Gas Proven Reserves

6.568 trillion cu m (1 January 2006 est.)

Fiscal Year

1 January to 31 December

Working Days

Saturday Wednesday for government institutions. Many private companies operate a six-day week (with Friday as an off day)


$215 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)

Exports - commodities

petroleum and petroleum products 90%


$82.77 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities

machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, chemicals, motor vehicles, textiles

Imports - partners

US 12.2%, Germany 9.1%, China 7.9%, Japan 7.3%, UK 4.8%, Italy 4.8%, South Korea 4.1% (2006)

Number of Date Palms



wheat, barley, tomatoes, melons, dates, citrus; mutton, chickens, eggs, milk

Cultivated Areas



Green, with the Shahada or Muslim creed in large white Arabic script (translated as "There is no god but God; Muhammad is the Messenger of God") above a white horizontal saber (the tip points to the hoist side); design dates to the early twentieth century and is closely associated with the Al Saud family which established the kingdom in 1932

Measurements and Weights

Weights: Ton – Kilogram
Measurements: Meter – kilometer – centimeter



Funding your business:

Credit Institutions:
The Kingdom has established specialized credit institutions to provide long-term loans to the vital sectors of the economy such as industry, agriculture and real estate, in addition to supporting professions and small businesses.

The Saudi Industrial Development Fund (SIDF):
Provides low-cost medium and long-term capital for industrial projects. In addition the Fund provides marketing, technical and financial advice to all Fund-financed projects to enhance their chances of success. With the issuance of the new foreign investment law, SIDF will extend its loans to projects fully owned by foreigners.

The Public Investment Fund:
Provides medium and long-term loans to the large-scale government and private industrial projects that Saudi commercial banks fail to finance.

The Real Estate Development Fund:
Provides medium or long-term loans to individuals or organizations for private or commercial housing projects.

The Saudi Arabian Agricultural Bank:
Provides loans and credit facilities to farmers and agricultural projects.

Saudi Commercial Banks:
Saudi commercial banks also provide investors with various types of loans.

  • Arab National Bank

  • Al Jazira Bank

  • Al Rajhi Banking and Investment Corporation

  • Bank AlBilad

  • National Commercial Bank

  • Riyadh Bank

  • Saudi American Bank

  • Saudi British Bank

  • Saudi Fransi Bank

  • Saudi Hollandi Bank

  • Saudi Investment Bank

Regional & International Financial Programs:
Investors may benefit from many regional and international credit programs to which the Kingdom is a party.

Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development (AFESD):
Participates in financing economic and social development projects in Arab countries; and encourages the investment of private and public funds in Arab projects.

Arab Monetary Fund:
Among other things, advices on investment of the financial resources of member states in foreign markets, promotes the development of Arab financial markets; and promotes trade among member states.

Arab Trade Financing Program:
Provides medium and long-term loans to individuals and organizations for private and commercial trade.

Inter-Arab Investment Guarantee Corporation:
Provides insurance coverage for Inter-Arab investments and export credits against non-commercial risks for the former and non-commercial and commercial risks for the later; to foster Inter-Arab investment flows through the awareness of potential investors of investment opportunities, provision of institutional support, and development of human capital.

Islamic Development Bank:
The Bank participates in equity capital and grants loans for productive projects and enterprises besides providing financial assistance in other forms for economic and social development. It accepts deposits to mobilize financial resources through Shari'ah compatible modes. It also assists in the promotion of foreign trade, especially in capital goods.

Why invest in Saudi Arabia?
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is transforming itself as one of the world’s most competitive economies, and therefore, one of most lucrative markets for strategic investment. Here’s why:
It’s all about the competitive advantages.
Saudi Arabia has a vast number of competitive advantages in many strategic sectors at regional and global levels, which yield significantly higher returns on investment. Of course, it is no surprise that Saudi Arabia is ranked first with regards to prices of energy provided for investment projects. As such, Saudi Arabia continues to be a natural choice for investors in all energy intensive industries.
But the competitive advantages in today’s Saudi Arabia run much deeper than just energy. It’s about creating a world-class business environment that combines an ease of conducting business with low costs. It’s about unfettered access to regional markets and financial services. Above all, it’s about our country’s vision, and our shared commitment, to seeing your business thrive.

As the world’s fastest reforming economy, the momentum behind this economic transformation is undeniable. It is therefore no surprise that, in just three years, Saudi Arabia has risen from 76th to 23rd position in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index and is currently number one in the Middle East.
Financially speaking, investment in Saudi Arabia realizes high profit ratios for local, foreign and shared projects, with low risk exposures, and a simple form of taxes and property registration fees. The Kingdom currently occupies the fifth rank regarding tax liabilities and fourth in property registration costs, according to business performance reports 2006/ 2007 issued by the International Bank.
Thus, under such a pro-business environment, firms in Saudi Arabia thrive. According to a comprehensive study published by Arab Forbes Magazine’s in late 2006 assessing the performance of (1616) joint-stock companies in the Arab world, the first three positions were Saudi companies. Out of the top 50 companies, 22 were Saudi companies when applying a number of rigorous standards such as operational efficiency, market value, sales, revenues, dividends, return on equity, return on two last year assets (2004 - 2005), and company expected growth.
In the banking sector, the ten Saudi banks are among the best banks in terms of profitability and growth potential in the Arab World. These Saudi banks comfortably rest within the list of biggest 1000 banks of the world, according to the Financial Times 2006. Also the 3 biggest banks in the Arab world are Saudi, ensuring comprehensive financial support for your business from every angle.
Monetarily speaking, the Saudi Riyal is one of the most stable currencies in the world, and offers great competitive advantages in the region. There has been no significant change in its exchange value during the last 3 decades. There are no restrictions on foreign currency exchange and outgoing money transfers. Inflation rates in Saudi Arabia are very low and the Kingdom is endeavoring to sign bilateral agreements with an increasing number of countries regarding investment encouragement, protection and arrangement of taxation issues.
A report issued by Milken International Corporation in Feb. 2007, noted all of the above points in bestowing upon the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia the first rank worldwide with respect to total economic environment classification (i.e. environment capability for project management and financing). Milken Corporation focused on Saudi Arabia’s low and stable interest rates, low inflation and low taxes, compared with international standards.
In addition to the Kingdom’s strong economic climate for investment, one of the country’s strongest advantages and incentives for foreign investment, however, is its people.
The majority of Saudi Arabia population is young, with 45% of the country under 15 years of age. Recognizing this as the country’s greatest potential asset, the Government has spent billions of dollars towards actively improving the human resources development pattern to better provide for the economic boom set to continue in Saudi Arabia for the near future. All of this provides investors with more opportunities to select the highest caliber labor for their projects.
Recently, the government launched the Human Resources Development Fund to train and recruit Saudis and provide many incentives for companies that employ nationals through the provision of aids and support for activities related to qualifying, training and recruitment of labor, contribution in the private sector Saudi laborers’ qualification and training costs, and even covering a percentage of the salary of Saudi labor employed by the private sector.
What does this all mean for your business? More productivity. Expanded output. Higher Profitability. And above all: boundless potential in the world’s fastest reforming business climate.

Need more reasons for investing in Saudi Arabia? Take into account the following statistics on Saudi Arabia:

1. Availability of low price facilities and services.
2. Low cost governmental financing opportunities.
3. No. 1 in exports and imports size in the Arab world.
4. Within the first 7 countries of least inflation rates in the world (IMD).
5. The 7th country in total local savings (IMD).
6. Within the first best 8 countries in exchange rate policies (IMD).
7. Biggest financial market in Middle East.
8. Within the first 25 countries in total cash savings (index of Economic Freedom).
9. Within in the first 24 countries of least cost loans from Saudi Industrial Development Fund.
10. Losses carry over for coming years regarding profit taxes.
11. Provision of assistance and consultancy by the General Investment Authority.
12. Within the best 3 countries in the world as of proprietorship registration cost.
13. Best country in the Middle East as of exchange rate index (Doing Business 2006).
14. Biggest foreign investment balance in the Arab world since many years till now (Arab Investment Guarantee Corporation Reports).
15. Biggest economy in the Middle East with gross local product exceeding 300 billion dollars, and a growth rate reaching 6% during the last 3 years.
16. Within the first 6 countries having the least company taxes in the world according to (IMD) report.
17. Biggest oil reserve - about 26% of the world’s reserve.
18. Forth natural gas reserve in the world.
19. Wide market serving a population of more than 22 million, and a gate to the markets of 205 million persons.
20. High incomes and purchasing power.
21. Strategic geographical location through which most significant international aviation lines pass, linking between three continents.
22. Nonexistence of local disputes due to prolonged political stability.
23. Nonexistence of multiple taxation (except profit taxes on foreign companies amounting 20%, allowing carrying over the losses of unlimited investments).
24. Within the first five countries in the world having easiest labor recruitment and work hours flexibility.
25. Nonexistence of work strikes.
26. Availability of energy with the least prices in the world.
27. A net of advanced banks with high technology and efficiency.
28. Capital cost rate (IMD).
29. Best in the world regarding financial solvency index (IMD).

Industrial advantages

Saudi Arabia’s nine “industrial cities”, comprising 65 million square meters, are managed by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. Each industrial city has an on-site administration to handle the day-to-day needs of investors and oversee the site development process. Five new industrial areas are under establishment in the Assir, Al-Jouf, Tabuk, Hail and Najran and three are under consideration for Al-Kharj, Ar’ar and Duba. Six more cities are planned in Assir, Hail, Jouf, Tabouk, Najran and Arar.
Land in the industrial cities is leased for a fixed period of 25 years. Current occupants have the right of first refusal for renewal under the same terms. Lease rates in industrial cities are fixed at SR 0.08 (US $0.02) per square meter. The lease fee includes basic services such as, security, fire, and road maintenance. No other fees are charged. Rent must be paid in advance on a monthly basis. Under normal conditions, it would take approximately 3 month and 1 week to obtain a lease for a parcel of land in an industrial city.
Land is generally available in Industrial Cities across the Kingdom at preferential rates. All utilities are readily available in the cities at a reduced tariff.

Royal Commission Land

The Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu controls two major industrial sites located on Saudi Arabia’s eastern and western coasts. Investors in these areas are focused on various oil and petroleum-related activities. Businesses are classified in the zone in three tiers:

  • Primary industries, including ethane and methane petrochemical and fertilizer manufacturers

  • Secondary industries, such as plastics and synthetic materials producers

  • Support and light industrial companies such as food servers, car rental providers, packaging plants and shipping agents.

The lease terms are fixed and renewable. Lease terms for the various types of business are:

  • Primary industries – 30 year lease

  • Secondary industries – 20 year lease

  • Support and light industries – ten year lease


There is a plan to develop 14,000 hectares to nearly double the Jubail industrial zone, compared to the area’s current size.


Yanbu is located north of Jeddah on the Red Sea. It hosts major industrial projects, including three oil refineries, a petrochemical plant, and several small and supporting industries.

The Economic Cities:

In developing the Economic Cities concept, over a thousand of the world’s free zones were surveyed. The sixty most successful zones were selected and meticulously studied to determine key success factors. The result is the Economic Cities concept. An ultimate innovation in Public-Private-Partnership (PPP), the Economic Cities are comprehensive, fully integrated developments featuring a “live, work and play” design. They are cities and not zones.

The objectives of the Economic Cities are to:

1.       Promote balanced regional development

2.       Achieve economic diversification

3.       Create jobs

4.       Upgrade competitiveness

Under the direction of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and the Crown Prince, has launched a total of four integrated Economic Cities, one each in Rabigh (King Abdullah Economic City), Hail (Prince AbdulAziz bin Mousaed Economic City), Madinah (Knowledge Economic City) and Jazan (Jazan Economic City). A launch of two more Economic Cities, one in Tabuk and one in the Kingdom’s Eastern Region is planned later this year.
Specifically the Saudi's vision for the Economic Cities is to contribute between a quarter and a third of the aspired national growth rate, to create over a million jobs, and to become home to 4-5 million residents by 2020.

We look forward to welcoming you to the Kingdom!

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