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Foreign investment system in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

The most prominent features of the foreign investment system in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Foreign investor: a natural person who does not have Saudi Arabian nationality, or a legal person in which not all of the partners have Saudi Arabian nationality. A foreign investor may obtain more than one license in different activities, and obtain more than one license to engage in the same activity or different other activities in accordance with the controls.
Foreign investments that are licensed to operate in accordance with the provisions of this system may be in one of the following two forms:

  • Establishments owned by a national investor and a foreign investor
  • Entities wholly owned by a foreign investor

Its legal form is limited to a limited liability company, a joint stock company, a branch of a foreign company, or any other legal form in which a decision is issued. The project licensed under this system shall enjoy all the advantages, incentives and guarantees enjoyed by the national project according to the regulations and instructions. The foreign investor has the right to re-transfer his share from the sale of his share or from the liquidation surplus or the profits made by the facility abroad, or to dispose of it by any other legitimate means. It is also entitled to transfer the necessary amounts to fulfill any contractual obligations of the project. A foreign facility licensed under this system may own the necessary real estate within the limits of the need to practice the licensed activity or for the purpose of housing all or some of its employees, in accordance with the provisions of non-Saudi ownership of real estate. The foreign investor, after obtaining the Authority’s prior approval, may purchase local, foreign or joint investment facilities or own shares in them, provided that the conditions and controls are met, the foreign investor and his non-Saudi employees shall be sponsored by the licensed facility. Investments belonging to a foreign investor may not be confiscated in whole or in part except by a court ruling. It may not be expropriated in whole or in part except for the public interest in return for fair compensation in accordance with the regulations and instructions. All foreign investments licensed under this Law shall be treated in accordance with the tax provisions in force in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and any amendments thereto. The Board of Directors of the General Investment Authority shall periodically review the list of activities excluded from foreign investment in order to reduce it and submit it to the Board for consideration for approval.