Airport free zones aim to attract foreign firms

Airport free zones aim to attract foreign firms
Updated 05 March 2016

Airport free zones aim to attract foreign firms

Airport free zones aim to attract foreign firms

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s aviation regulator is in talks with government agencies to set up free zones at Jeddah and Riyadh airports as part of a long-term plan to diversify the Kingdom’s economy away from oil, its chairman said.
“This is not a simple development of a free zone; there’s a lot of agencies involved. The starting point would be one in Jeddah Airport and one in Riyadh Airport,” said Faisal Al-Sugair, vice chairman of the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA).
The free zones would aim to attract foreign businesses through relaxed licenses, visa and taxation rules, available to various industries and services. They would be large enough to include manufacturing facilities, Al-Sugair said.
The authority, which oversees all the country’s 27 airports, announced plans in November to privatize Saudi Arabia’s international and domestic airports by 2020 as the Kingdom seeks foreign investment to support state finances.
Al-Sugair said the Council of Economic and Development Affairs (CEDA) and Public Investment Fund (PIF) were working on the free zones as part of the National Transformation Plan, a package of reforms meant to boost the non-oil private sector.
“It’s led by CEDA and the PIF, working together with the Ministry of Commerce and obviously GACA to develop the right concept for these free zones, but that’s going to take some time,” he said.
Al-Sugair said he expected bids for Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport by the end of April.