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Saudi Arabia

Basic Information

Area: 2,149,690 km²

Calling code: +966

Population: 30,770,375

Official Language: Arabic

Time zone: GMT+3 , Local time: 18:25


Bounded by the Red Sea on the west, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait on the north, the Arabian Gulf, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates on the East and Yemen and Oman in the south. The Kingdom has a continental climate with mild temperate winters and very hot summers, with relatively little rainfall even in the winter months

The Kingdom has a rapidly growing economy and lies at the heart of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region strategically located between Asia and Europe. It lies logistically at the centre of a developing market of 400 million people with growing demands for goods and services.

The Kingdom has an oil-based economy with strong government controls over major economic activities. It possesses about 16% of the world's proven petroleum reserves, ranks as the largest exporter of petroleum, and is one of the founding members of OPEC. The petroleum sector accounts for roughly 80% of budget revenues, 45% of GDP, and 90% of export earnings.

Saudi Arabia has an impressive record of political and economic stability, the economy ranks 4th in the world for macroeconomic stability, is one of the world’s 20 largest economies, and the largest in MENA. The economy has grown very strongly in recent years, benefitting from high oil prices and output, strong private sector activity, and increased government spending. A reputation for a strong, stable government, a stable banking system and a stable currency all combine to offer investors a business-friendly environment. The near term economic outlook is positive and it is expected that non-oil growth will be underpinned by strong private sector activity and government spending on large projects in transportation infrastructure, healthcare and housing, with inflation expected to remain subdued.

The Kingdom has a modern transportation network of roads, railroads, air, marine and public transport. The country is also linked by a sophisticated communications network that serves as a basis for its economic growth and development.

The Saudi Arabian government has recently launched the Unified Investment Plan (UIP) that is underpinning the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority’s (SAGIA) renewed inward investment strategy.

Information kindly provided by the
Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority - SAGIA


Saudi Arabia is the world’s 19th largest economy, a member of the G20 and the largest economy in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region with the third-biggest current account surplus in the world. It is the world's 16th largest exporter and the world’s 29rd largest importer.

The economy has grown very strongly in recent years. The strong economic performance has enabled the Saudi government to carry out massive fiscal spending to diversify the economic base horizontally and vertically, expand the absorptive and productive capacities of the national economy and enhance competitiveness. Driven by these efforts, the non-oil sector, led by manufacturing, construction, transportation and trade, has grown by 6.38% and 5.07% while accounting for around 55.7% and 56.5% of real GDP in 2013 and 2014 respectively.

Saudi Arabia is encouraging the growth of the private sector in order to diversify its economy and to employ more Saudi nationals.

Saudi Arabia’s economy ranks 4th in the world for macroeconomic stability, the economy has grown very strongly in recent years, benefitting from high oil prices and output, strong private sector activity, and increased government spending. The private sector is playing an increasingly larger role in the Saudi economy – it now accounts for 39.5 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). The sector is expected to continue growing, especially as Saudi Arabia opens its doors further to foreign investment.

Headline inflation remains subdued at 2.0% in Fy2015/16, and will ease to a ‘steady state’ of 2.45% in Fy2016/17. The near term economic outlook is positive and it is expected that non-oil growth will be underpinned by strong private sector activity and government spending on large projects in transportation infrastructure and housing, with inflation is expected to remain subdued.
The UIP is a new positive phase of investment aimed at unlocking the Kingdom’s potential, creating a win-win environment for both investors and Saudi Arabia.

The UIP aims to transform the investment landscape to:

• Diversify the economy
• Build the knowledge base
• Enable high productivity employment
• Maintain the ease of doing business

The plan outlines four sector specific approaches to achieving this: to integrate the energy sector with the development of downstream chemicals and manufacturing; to transform the construction, retail, tourism, and real estate sectors into high productivity economic engines; to accelerate the development of healthcare, transport and mining; and to improve the competitiveness of the Kingdom by means of research, and development and innovation in education and ICT.

At present SAGIA have identified over 90 projects through the UIP in the healthcare, transportation and Industrial parts and equipment sectors. These are the sectors poised for major growth and opportunities in every sub-sector and at every step of the value chain.

Information kindly provided by the
Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority - SAGIA


From air passengers to shipping high value products, 45 million passengers and 568,000 tonnes of freight travelled to, from and within Saudi Arabia. More than 81,800 scheduled international flights depart Saudi Arabia annually, destined for 81 airports in 45 countries. Domestically, 109,200 flights make over 13.4 million seats available to passengers, destined to 26 airports.
KSA's four principal airports are:

• King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA), Jeddah
• King Khalid International Airport, Riyadh
• King Fahd International Airport, Dammam
• Prince Mohammad Bin Abdulaziz International Airport, Medina

Saudi Arabia boasts a wide transport network with a particular strength in road and airport transportation. The quality of infrastructure is solid, with Saudi Arabia ranking 17th in the WEF infrastructure quality score. Driven by economic and population growth as well as rapid urbanization, the Kingdom is now investing in a massive expansion of its urban transport system (metros and buses) as well as inter-urban (freight and high speed railways). In parallel, the Kingdom pursues a strategic goal of increasing infrastructure quality by 300% by 2024.

Saudi Arabia has a well-developed sea transport network built primarily to support the transport of petrochemicals. Saudi Ports Authority is the ports management organization in the country, overseeing the operations.

The major ports in the country are as:

Persian Gulf
Ras Tanura
Red Sea
Yanbu' al Bahr
Al Lith

In 2004, Saudi Arabia became one of the first countries in the region to license 3G services, and, in September 2011, it was one of the first countries to introduce LTE (4G) services, and the telecommunications sector continues to grow at a remarkable rate. The kingdoms 17,000-kilometer state-of-the-art fiber optic network connecting all major cities in the Kingdom offers massive bandwidth capacity at affordable rates.
The Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology oversees all modern communications technologies in the Kingdom. With a mobile penetration rate of 170%, the Kingdom our preforms the global average of 93%.

Information kindly provided by the
Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority - SAGIA


The population of Saudi Arabia is 30,770,375 with 20,702,536 Saudi Nationals, 47% of which are under 24, are growing, and increasingly well educated. It is expected to double by 2050 creating a solid domestic demand for goods, services and infrastructure. With 47% of the Saudi population under 25 years of age and around 69% in the working age (15-64), the Kingdom is the world’s 8th largest spender on education. The kingdom is investing heavily in education and training programs to enhance the capability of the workforce and foster the development of a knowledge based economy.

Providing skilled labor to industry, the Technical & Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC) is at the heart of vocational training in KSA. TVTC is the driver of vocational and technical training and works to provide skilled manpower to the industrial sectors.

Saudi Arabia hosts 24 public universities and 20 private colleges, 35 technical colleges, 65 vocational training centers with a further 80 to be built. In addition to more than 1000 private organizations accredited by the TVTC. The 2014 academic year features 1,548,696 students in third level education and 171,078 students studying abroad.

Below are some of the initiatives that have been undertaken in recent years:

• King Abdullah Foreign Scholarship Program - the government provides $2.4bn a year to fund 125,000 students to study abroad for tertiary education.
• The Joint Centers of Excellence Program (JCEP) at King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) includes several Joint Centers of Excellence (JCEs) in collaboration with world-renowned academic and international industry partners
• The 10th Development Plan aims to accelerate the national base of science and technology to foster innovation and sustainable economic growth through the establishment of King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) as an independent scientific organization, on a par with Fraunhofer-Institute in Germany and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US.
• The Riyadh Techno Valley (RTV) is dedicated to attracting local and global investment in the field of technological research. It is one of the contributions of King Saud University in building partnerships with public and private sectors in knowledge transfer.
• The Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) was established to aid those companies involved in the preparation, training and employment of the national workforce in the private sector. It provides financial support for the training and employment of Saudi citizens.

Information kindly provided by the
Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority - SAGIA

Business Costs

The Kingdom offers investors high-capacity, high-quality infrastructure, and competitively priced utilities needed to help businesses grow.

As one of the world’s largest oil producers, Saudi Arabia controls some of the main elements that drive electricity cost, keeping it and other utilities’ at relatively low cost. Effective provisioning and utility cost management continue to be some of the highest strategic priorities for Saudi Arabia.

Tariffs for communication and utilities Saudi Arabia

The tax environment in Saudi Arabia is very favorable according to the World Bank’s 2015 Ease of Doing Business. Globally, Saudi Arabia stands third in the ranking of 189 economies on the ease of paying taxes.
Foreign – owned companies enjoy all the benefits, incentives, guarantees, and support offered to Saudi-owned companies. These include:

• 20% tax on corporate profits, with any losses carried forward indefinitely to offset future taxes
• No personal income tax, no value added tax, no sales tax, no land tax and no property tax.
• Full repatriation of capital, profit, and dividends allowed, subject to a 5% withholding tax
• Minimal restrictions on currency conversion, exchanges and transfers
• Tax exemption on earnings from exports
• Tax credits on R&D investments
• The government also grants significant training and employment-related tax concessions, up to 50% of either training cost or payroll, to companies operating in any of the six less developed regions: Hail, Jizan, Najran, Al Baha, Al Jouf, and the Northern Region.

The general rate of import duty is 5%. Some limited numbers of products have tariff rates of either 12% or 20%. Customs duty exemption is available on all authorized imports for industrial establishments, equipment, machinery, tools, spare parts, raw materials or packaging materials if local supply does not exist or the local supply is not up to the specifications of the manufacturers.

Information kindly provided by the
Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority - SAGIA
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