RIYADH: Saudi Arabia awarded 478 new foreign investor licenses in Q1 2021, the most since records began in 2005, as the Kingdom’s economic rebound from COVID-19 continues.
The quarterly figures was a 36 percent increase on the same period in 2020 and 2.6 percent higher than the previous quarter, which was also a record, the Ministry of Investment of Saudi Arabia (MISA) said.
The manufacturing sector led the way with 114 new licenses, followed by retail and e-commerce (78), construction (78), professional and scientific (62) and ICT (41).
The data was presented in MISA’s Spring 2021 Investment Highlights report, which outlines the developments and pro-business reforms ongoing across the Saudi investment environment.
A 2018 reform allowed 100 percent foreign ownership of companies in the Kingdom. In Q1 2021, 59 percent of new investment projects were full foreign ownership, with the remainder being joint ventures with local investors.
“These latest figures show that, despite the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy, foreign investors continue to have great confidence in Saudi Arabia’s historic transformation journey under the guidance of Vision 2030,” said HE Khalid Al Falih, minister of investment of Saudi Arabia.
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, according to The Financial Times’ fDi Intelligence.
The number of projects in Saudi Arabia fell by 49 percent in 2020 to 73, for a total value of $10.4 billion.