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2017 Saudi Update

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Adam Hosier

Adam Hosier

Saudi Arabia Business Expert

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2017 Saudi Update

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AEI Saudi is a market entry consultancy that helps foreign businesses to succeed in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The below is a quick update on what has been going on and why now is the perfect time for your business to consider exporting to Saudi:

Saudi in 2017

Saudi Arabia is the Land of Misconceptions; the view that many outsiders have of Saudi society belies the reality within. Strangers to Saudi Arabia will no doubt be unaware of the pace of change. But, under the banner of Vision 2030, societal and economic transformation is well underway across the board. The aim is to diversify the economy away from oil and to kickstart private sector growth, to create entertainment opportunities and to increase female participation in the workforce.

The role of women

Saudi Arabia has long been criticised abroad for its treatment of women in society but, while there is still a long way to go, it is abundantly clear that the government is intent on change. 2017 has so far seen the appointment of female heads of the Saudi Stock Exchange, Samba Financial Group and the Saudi Federation for Community Sports. There are more female graduates from Saudi universities than men and it is estimated that some 200,000 women now work in the retail sector.

Perhaps the most progressive announcement made for many years is the 2017 royal decree to allow women to drive, thus ending the Kingdom’s reputation as the only country in the world to effectively ban women from driving. Improved social mobility and employment opportunities stemming from increased access to transport are just two significant benefits.

Entertainment for all

In a drive to retain citizens who have previously travelled abroad for recreation, the General Entertainment Authority (GEA) has in 2017 alone hosted more ‘western’ entertainment, such as Comic-Con in Jeddah and Monster Truck racing in Riyadh, than in the past few decades combined. There are also plans to develop a Six Flags entertainment park south of Riyadh and a Red Sea holiday resort in the north-west of the country.

Economic change

This year has also seen the announcement of 5% VAT to be introduced in 2018, an Expat Tax on each dependant living in the Kingdom and a ‘sin tax’ on sugar, tobacco and energy drinks. This economic maturing is part of a rebalancing of the books in a country determined to reduce its reliance on petrodollars in exchange for increased reliance on its own people.

What does this mean for your business?

The current astounding pace of change means that opportunities are abundant across all sectors of the Saudi economy. If you plan to include Saudi in your export strategy then look no further than AEI to help you succeed. To learn more about the services of AEI and to use our rapid online Saudi visa form, click here.

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