Saudi marks record issuance of foreign investor licenses; Signals investment recovery

By Amirtha P S, Desk Reporter
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Saudi Arabia
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Saudi Arabia issued 478 new foreign investor licenses in the first quarter (Q1) of this year, marking an increase of 2.6 percent from Q4 of 2020, the Ministry of Investment of Saudi Arabia (MISA) said in its report.

The number of foreign investor licenses issued in Q1 of this year is the highest since records began in 2005. The first quarter also posted the fourth consecutive increase in the number of new foreign investment projects since the peak of the pandemic in Q2 2020, indicating a continued rebound in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

During the first quarter of this year, about 114 licenses were issued for the manufacturing sector, MISA said. Data from the Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources show that $4.7 billion worth of industrial investments were made in the Q1 of 2021, over four times higher than the same quarter last year. 

About 59 percent of new investment projects in the first quarter were fully owned by foreigners, with the remainder being joint ventures with local investors, the ministry added.

The retail and eCommerce (78 licenses), construction (78 licenses), professional and scientific (62 licenses) and information and communications technology (41 licenses) sectors also accounted for a significant proportion of growth.

Khalid Al Falih
Khalid Al Falih
Minister of Investment
Saudi Arabia

“Despite common global challenges, more and more investors are starting businesses in the kingdom, FDI inflow into Saudi Arabia is at its highest level since 2016 when Vision 2030 was launched, and global interest in Saudi financial assets traded on our Tadawul stock exchange continues to grow.”

Saudi Arabia’s economy grew an annual 1.5 percent in the second quarter of this year, backed by growth in its non-oil economy, according to the latest flash data released by the government this week. As per the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Arab world’s largest economy is now expected to grow 2.4 percent this year and 4.8 percent in 2022.

“Our goals are ambitious, but we are making progress at an accelerated pace to make it easier and quicker for international businesses of all sizes to access opportunities, opening up a wide and diverse range of economic sectors,” Mr. Al Falih said.

Related: Saudi Arabia’s financial wealth hit $1tn in 2020; Report