LONDON: Foreign investors are to be allowed to sit as directors on the boards of Saudi chambers of commerce for the first time.
The move is aimed at boosting competitiveness and business activity in the Kingdom, the Saudi Ministry of Commerce said in a statement.
The new system will also mean that more than one chamber of commerce can be established in the same region.
Reforms to the country’s business chambers come as part of a broader push to modernize the economy, slash bureaucracy, and create jobs for Saudis.
In addition to revoking the Saudi citizenship rule, companies joining business chambers will be exempt from paying subscription fees for three years. The reforms also scrap the requirement to take out a new subscription for additional company branches.
“This is an encouraging development for overseas investors looking to expand in the Kingdom,” said Ed O’Reilly, executive director of Dubai-based 4Front Consultants, a technology company with operations in Saudi Arabia.
Under the new plans, the old Council of Chambers will become the Chambers Association and the changes will also see the creation of a supervisory body to monitor performance, while allowing the holding of meetings and voting through electronic means.
Saudi Arabia carried out a record number of business reforms last year, according to the World Bank Group’s Doing Business 2020 report, helping to put the country into the top 10 of global business climate improvers.
The Kingdom made the greatest improvement in the area of starting a business — costing 5.4 percent of income per capita for an entrepreneur to set up, compared with the wider regional average of 16.7 percent.