Saudi Arabia ‘top MENA destination for foreign investment last year’

Saudi Arabia ‘top MENA destination for foreign investment last year’
The number of new foreign projects in the MENA region fell to 1,031 in 2020 from 1,795 in 2019. (File)
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Updated 23 May 2021

Saudi Arabia ‘top MENA destination for foreign investment last year’

Saudi Arabia ‘top MENA destination for foreign investment last year’
  • Saudi Arabia attracted $10.4bn from overseas in 2020, 18 percent of the region’s total
  • Number of FDI projects in Saudi Arabia fell 49 percent in 2020 to 73

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia attracted 18 percent of all foreign investment in the Middle East and North Africa last year, the most of any country in the region.

The number of projects in Saudi Arabia fell by 49 percent in 2020 to 73, for a total value of $10.4 billion, Al Arabiya reported, citing data from The Financial Times’ fDi Intelligence.

New foreign projects established in the MENA region fell to 1,031 in 2020, compared with 1,795 in 2019, as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak forced a decline across the global economy.

The UAE topped regional countries in the number of new foreign projects, with 327. It ranked second in terms of the value of investments, attracting $9 billion.

Egypt witnessed the largest decline in new foreign direct investment in the region, as investments slumped to $1.3 billion from $12.2 billion in 2019. The number of new foreign projects in Egypt dropped by 70 percent last year, while jobs generated by projects fell by 76 percent.

The UAE topped MENA countries in making foreign investments after it pumped $5.9 billion into 148 projects. Saudi Arabia ranked second, investing $3 billion across 42 projects.

The Kingdom is actively looking to boost foreign investment and activity in the country.

In January, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the ambitious Riyadh Strategy 2030, which aims to enable up to 500 international companies to set up regional bases in the city, creating about 35,000 new jobs for Saudis and doubling the capital’s population.

The strategy looks to invest up to SR70 billion ($18.67 billion) into the national economy by the end of the decade.

Sovereign AEI, a firm that specializes in helping companies set up operations in the Kingdom, said last month that it had seen a spike in business activity.

“The beginning of this year has been very encouraging, as we have seen a 40 to 50 percent increase in Saudi Arabia market-entry activity when compared to pre-pandemic levels,” Stuart D’Souza, co-founder and CEO of Arabian Enterprise Incubators, one of the partner firms that makes up Sovereign AEI, told Arab News.