Saudi to revoke some foreign investment licenses

Saudi Arabia will not allow foreign investors who could not meet the country’s strict investment standards to stay

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Eng. Abdullatif al-Othman, Governor of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), wished “better luck” for foreign stakeholders that were not able to raise the level of their investments inside the Kingdom according to the terms of the foreign investment law.

On the sideline of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Othman told Al Arabiya’s presenter Fatima Zahra Daoui that the Saudi Kingdom is fully committed to the open economies policy and providing a business-friendly environment.

“As part of this commitment, we are extending foreign investment licenses that are facing difficulties with following through on their initially promised objectives an 18 month period to get on track,” he said.

Othman said that, while some companies received provisional licenses, they were not in compliance with the Kingdom’s foreign investment law and therefore had their authorizations revoked.

“We are trying to find a solution with the investors by giving them a specific deadline and we hope they will be able [to] adjust their situation within this period” he said.

SAGIA’s governor pointed out that, in general, Saudi Arabia’s economy welcomes any investor, big or small, that can contribute to the Kingdom’s economic diversification and the transferring of technology.

Othman said that Saudi Arabia is experiencing a period of economic growth, making it among the top three fastest-growing countries in the world. He pointed to the availability of investment opportunities in most sectors, as well as competitiveness due to the government pumping money into the transport, health and education sectors, in addition to major Saudi and foreign company investment.

Discussing the appeal of the Saudi market, Othman said that the kingdom is one of the largest markets in the region with a strategic position and a good investment climate. He stressed that most of all, the Kingdom is proud that “its reputation shows that all those who previously invested in the kingdom have had a good experience, highlighting the competitiveness of the Saudi economy and the outstanding investment climate”.

Othman added that while the country’s economy showed strong growth during the global economic crisis, the recovery of the economies in the U.S., Europe and China will help bolster Saudi Arabia’s as well.

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