With ambitious plans to transform its economy as part of the crown prince’s Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia is hoping to boost foreign direct investment (FDI) into the country as it embarks on a post-oil era and ambitious mega projects like the futuristic city of NEOM.
Ibrahim Al-Omar, governor of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), said foreign direct investment (FDI) was growing in Saudi Arabia.
Official figures from the World Bank show FDI net inflows were $7.453 billion in 2016 while net outflows were $8.936 in the same year.
Since then, however, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has appeared to take the reigns on transforming the economy and society by introducing a raft of liberalizing reforms.
An anti-corruption purge led by the crown prince last year caused concern among some business leaders, but Al-Omar said foreign investment was now growing, but didn’t give more detail.
“We have seen a growth for foreign investment — about 50 percent comparing the first quarter this year to the same period last year. Also, the (FDI) inflows we have seen about 40 percent,” Al-Omar told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble as she hosted a session on the Saudi Arabian FDI landscape at the Gateway Gulf investment forum in Bahrain.
Saudi Arabia was ready to help businesses set up in the country and SAGIA was working with government entities to support and incentivize foreign investment, Al-Omar said.
The country also wanted to improve its business environment and ranking on the World Bank’s “ease of doing business index” — it is currently at number 92 in the index of 190 countries.
“We have a target to be number 20 in the rankings of the ease of doing business by 2020. We are working with the World Bank and best practice across the world and we have identified over 400 reforms. Today, we have achieved about 40 percent of them,” he said.