RIYADH: Saudi Arabia wants to be in the top 20 countries measured by “ease of doing business” by 2020, the head of the Kingdom’s investment promotion agency, the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) said on Thursday.
Ibrahim Al-Omar, SAGIA governor, said that there were a lot of reforms that would have to be accomplished if it were to achieve top 20 status as measured annually by the World Bank, which put the Kingdom at number 92 in the world out of 190 countries.
But he said that there was a “great interest” among international investors to get more involved in business in the Kingdom and reforms were being pushed through fast.
“We are a model for the whole world in how to improve the business environment”, he said, highlighting the new arbitration and insolvency laws, the efficiency of the Kingdom’s ports, and the ease and speed of getting a business visa.
“There has been some negative feedback on the insolvency laws, but really they are a protection tool for any business. It will give you the opportunity to reschedule your liabilities,” Al-Omar said.
He met around 400 companies in the UK and US when he accompanied the royal tour of those countries, and told them of the Kingdom’s investment potential.
But he said there were risks perceived by international investors because of the limited clarity and awareness of reforms in the Kingdom. “It is hard to communicate when we’re going so fast,” he said.
Al-Omar, who described SAGIA as a provider of “VIP concierge services” for potential investors, also said that there was only limited market information about the investment opportunities available, and that SAGIA was setting up an online portal listing all potential deals on offer.