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70% spike in Saudi foreign investor visas for construction in Q1 2019

Sagia reveals 39 licences were issued for foreign construction companies in Q1 2019, a marked hike over Q1 2018's 22

Saudi Arabia issued more foreign investor licences for construction in Q1.
Fayez Nureldine / AGP / Getty Images
Saudi Arabia issued more foreign investor licences for construction in Q1.

The number of foreign investor licences issued for the construction sector in Saudi Arabia increased by 77% in Q1 2019 compared to Q1 2018, with these business approvals – many of which came from India and China – leading to 267 foreign investor visas being issued during the same period.

According to state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA), 39 licences were issued in Q1 2019 – a 77% increase on the 22 issued during the first three months of 2018.

The 39 construction licences contributed to a total of 267 foreign investor visas issued in Q1 2019, a 70% increase on the corresponding period last year.

SPA said this figure represented more than four companies setting up in the country every day, and the mining and quarrying sector saw 11 foreign companies receive licences during the year’s opening quarter.

Other growth sectors, SPA added, included education and healthcare, following the recent lifting of foreign ownership restrictions in these industries.

The latest investor figures were released by the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (Sagia), the Saudi government body tasked with attracting foreign companies to establish operations in the kingdom.

Under Saudi law, a foreign business must acquire a foreign investor visa to operate a business in the kingdom.

“The positive growth numbers that we have seen in the first quarter of 2019 represent a significant milestone on the road to 2030,” said Sagia's governor, Eng Ibrahim Al Omar.

“The investment opportunities that the kingdom offers to foreign companies also offers opportunities for the transfer of skills, expertise, and best practice to national communities, while providing new private sector job prospects for young Saudi men and women.

“We consider foreign companies who look to Saudi Arabia as our growth partners,” he added, noting that he believes they are “integral to the success” of the kingdom’s Vision 2030 economic diversification agenda.

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Construction Week - Issue 753
Nov 09, 2019