Saudi Arabia is transforming itself into one of the world’s top 10 most competitive economies, and therefore, one of the most lucrative markets for strategic investment, by investing massively to enhance its value proposition to foreign businesses, both with infrastructure and with reform.
In 2004, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, has directed the Saudi government to become one of the world’s Top 10 most competitive economies by 2010 - the 10x10 mission.
Its vision is to achieve rapid and sustainable economic growth in Saudi Arabia, capitalizing on the Kingdom’s competitive strength as the global capital of energy and as a major hub between East and West. In pursuit of this goal, the organs of government have initiated a multi-faceted reform strategy that has made the Kingdom one of the easiest places in the world to do business. The design of the strategic plan focused around two core competencies: energy and location. To complement these competencies, Saudi Arabia has been focused on creating both a pro-business and knowledge based society as well as developing world-class economic cities.
In particular, Riyadh is the meeting place for the nation and the capital of the Kingdom. It is characterized by its geographical location since it is located in the central part of the Kingdom. It is home for the government and all governmental divisions and major companies as well as foreign embassies in the Kingdom.
Al Riyadh hosts the most important of gulf, Arab and International conferences on a regular basis. Hundreds of exhibitions and conferences known internationally are also held there, such as Medical Confer-ences (ophthalmology, dental, and medical equipment), Jaytex Exhibition, and international motor show. As a destination for business tourists, Al Riyadh unites between modernity and the past by high modern buildings and architecturally unique constructions. There are various tourist attractions in Saudi Arabia with many relics of the ancient civilizations on Saudi lands and some of them dating back to the B.C. era.
Competitiveness and Unparalleled Security to Investors
As the world’s fastest-reforming economy, Saudi Arabia has seen growing momentum and recognition for its economic transformation. Under Saudi government’s strong commitment and drive toward creating better investment climate for foreign firms and foreigners, Saudi Arabia has risen from 67th to 23rd position out of 181 countries in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index just in three years from 2005 to 2008, and is currently number one in the Middle East, ahead of Bahrain, the UAE and Kuwait. The Kingdom ranks the 3rd and the 7th in the world, respectively, for ease of registering property and paying taxes. Moreover, firms in Saudi Arabia thrive in this pro-business environment. Saudi firms occupied the top three spots in Forbes assessment of 1,616 joint-stock companies in the Arab world in late 2006. The Kingdom’s financial institutions are the largest in the region, and compete comfortably with the world’s best.
Saudi Arabia’s economy provides unparalleled security to investors. The Saudi Riyal is one of the most stable currencies in the world. Sound macroeconomic management has allowed the Kingdom to maintain a fixed exchange rate without any restrictions on foreign exchange and outgoing money transfers. Inflation rates in Saudi Arabia are very low and the Kingdom is signing bilateral agreements with an increasing number of countries to encourage investor protection and reduce tax burdens. Ample capital availability, low taxes, and stable prices have earned Saudi Arabia the world’s top ranking for the quality of its macroeconomic environment.
In addition to the Kingdom’s strong economic climate for investment, one of the country’s strongest advantages and incentives for foreign investment, however, is its people. The majority of Saudi Arabia population is young, with 57% of the country under 25 years of age. Reco-gnizing this as the country’s greatest potential asset, the Government is investing billions of dollars in education in order to train the next generation’s highly skilled workforce. As the world’s 8th highest spender on education, Saudi Arabia will provide investors with more opportunities to select the highest quality labor for their projects.