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Saudi Arabia Business in Review 2017
In 2017 Saudi Arabia experienced extensive growth in the private sector, development in areas such as infrastructure and healthcare and innovation in technology. King Salman’s Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Program (NTP) objectives played a large role in the reforms seen across the Kingdom. The overall goal to diversify the economy away from oil meant Saudi welcomed new reforms focused on modernizing the country and easing the arrival of foreign investors and entrepreneurs.
Initial Public Offering (IPO)
In 2017, Saudi Arabia announced that the state-owned entity, Saudi Aramco, would release its’ IPO. The venue and exact date is not yet confirmed, venues that have been explored include London and New York, alongside Riyadh’s stock market, Tadawul. The Saudi Aramco stock listing is on track to be released in 2018 and will be the largest listing the world has ever seen.
Foreign investor 100% ownership
In the trading sector, Saudi Arabia General Investment Authority (SAGIA) announced a licence change that allowed 100% ownership of companies. This licence change was implemented mid August and immediately saw Dow Chemical Co. receive a full ownership licence. Additionally, we saw the beginning of entrepreneur licenses being distributed for the first time at the recent Misk Global Forum.
The announcement of Neom, the $500 billion city, is a mega project created to increase the local investment opportunities and reduce the money leaving the Kingdom. The city’s initial investment will come from the Public Investment Fund (PIF), local and international investors and is home to industries such as energy and water, biotechnology, food, manufacturing and entertaining.
Saudi Arabia’s Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) reportedly issued their first license in Jeddah, allowing travel agencies ability to issue tourist visas. Authorised agencies in category D are now able to issue tourist visas inside and outside the Kingdom for tourism, educational and medical purposes.
Saudi Arabia’s commitment to development and growth in 2017 saw large strides towards modernization and innovation in the nation. The updates encouraged foreign investors to enter the market and an increase in the private sector continues to allow the country to diversify the economy from oil.