Invest in Saudi Arabia

Time:  April 01, 2018

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Living in Saudi Arabia

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has long welcomed foreign …

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Natural Resources

Covering 2 million km², Saudi Arabia is the largest co…

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Locations

Strategically located at the crossroads of three conti…

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Industries & Economical Cities

The economic cities initiative was launched to establi…

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Human Capital

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has a population of 30 mil…

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Infrastructure

Real estate for industrial usage is available at diffe…

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Investment Incentives & Support

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a fast-growing, business…

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Transportation Network

Industrial Infrastructure Real estate for industrial u…

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The Future Investment Initiative

Time:  April 01, 2018

 FII 2018 Riyadh, Saudi ArabiaAn Innovative High-level Initiative

The Future Investment Initiative (FII) by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF) is a pioneering global investment event connecting the world’s most powerful investors, business leaders, thought leaders and public officials with the pathbreaking innovations defining the future.Hosted under the patronage of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, and under the leadership of His Royal Highness Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al-Saud, Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister, Chairman of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs and Chairman of PIF, the forum brings together global CEOs and investors with world-leading experts and visionaries from a range of industries, to explore the evolving role of sovereign wealth in driving the next wave of business, innovation, technology and investment.

BASED ON 03 PILLARS

Shifting centers of power

The new investment paradigm

Innovation for a better world

An Interactive Experience

Unprecedented opportunities for CEOs, global investors, leading business decision-makers, entrepreneurs and innovators to see first-hand the opportunities created by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s economic reform agenda.

Collaborative and interactive platforms to spark deep connections, share perspectives and best practices, and develop a new understanding of industry and company-specific investment opportunities.
Relationship building with an influential community of peers representing a range of sectors, geographies, demographics, and investment backgrounds.
#FII2018
About
Why was FII established?

The Future Investment Initiative is being organized in the context of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, the ambitious blueprint that is already charting the path for the Kingdom to harness its strong investment capabilities and use its unique strategic location to become a global investment hub connecting three continents.

The primary focus of the Future Investment Initiative is to provide a platform for objective, expert-led debate on both current and long-term global investment trends, with the ultimate aim of exploring opportunities for achieving sustainable returns which deliver positive and lasting impacts.

What to expect

A collaborative program and interactive platform designed to spark deep connections, shared perspectives, and best practices for a new understanding of industry and company-specific investment opportunities globally.
Relationships with an influential community of peers representing a range of sectors, geographies, demographics, and investment backgrounds.
Unprecedented opportunities for CEOs, global investors, leading business decision-makers, and innovators to understand the opportunities created by Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.
An exposition featuring leading businesses and new large-scale investment projects, many of which are part of the Public Investment Fund’s core portfolio and beyond.

 

This article was first published in Future Investment Initiative

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Richard Branson to invest in Saudi Arabia’s tourism project

Time: April 01, 2018

Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson will invest in a Red Sea project that aims to turn 50 Saudi Arabian islands into luxury tourism destinations, the Saudi government announced on Sunday.

Branson is the first international investor to commit to the project, Saudi Arabia’s information ministry said, in what officials called “a clear sign that Saudi Arabia is opening its doors to international tourism”.

Branson also visited the tombs at Mada’in Saleh – a Unesco world heritage site located near a string of new hotels – in a trip to the Gulf kingdom that appears to be aimed at attracting further international attention, in terms of both investment and tourism.

“This is an incredibly exciting time in the country’s history, and I’ve always felt that there’s nothing like getting a first-hand impression,” Branson said in a statement released by the information ministry.

Saudi Arabia is one of the most conservative countries in the world, only last week passing a decree allowing women to drive.

But since the shock appointment in June of Prince Mohammed bin Salman as successor to his father’s throne, the oil-rich state has launched a media offensive aimed at promoting its image.

Prince Mohammed, who sidelined his cousin, Mohammed bin Nayef, to be appointed the royal heir, is also the champion of Saudi Arabia’s ambitious Vision 2030 economic plan.

The scheme aims to pull the region’s biggest economy out of its dependence on oil and diversify the country’s economic revenue model.

On 1 August, Saudi Arabia announced plans to turn 34,000 sq km (13,127 sq miles) of its Red Sea coastline into luxury resorts.

The project is aimed at attracting international tourists to a country where alcohol is prohibited and the mobility and dress of women restricted.

The Saudi Public Investment Fund, which is headed by Prince Mohammed, will provide the initial investment into the Red Sea project, with construction slated to start in 2019.

The Red Sea project is expected to generate 35,000 jobs, according to the Saudi government.

This article was first published in The Guardian

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Living in Saudi Arabia

Time: April 01, 2018

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has long welcomed foreign people to work in the country, for anything from a few days to several years. Expatriates account for around a 35% of Saudi Arabia’s total population. Politically stable, well-ordered and with very little crime, Saudi Arabian society places great emphasis on family life, safety, hospitality and tradition. When working in Saudi Arabia, foreign executives and their families often choose to live in purpose-built gated communities. Safe, comfortable, convenient and a ‘home from home’ for expatriates, these offer high-quality villa-style accommodation and extensive on-site facilities such as supermarkets, swimming pools, bowling alleys, gyms and even golf courses.

Saudi Arabia has first-class health and educational facilities, both public and private. Saudi Arabia first international school opened in Dhahran in 1962, and highly-rated international schools are now found in many of the Kingdom’s larger cities. Among Saudi Arabia’s historic, cultural and scenic attractions are ancient castles, huge sand dunes and the spectacular coral reefs of the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf. Spectator and participatory sports include horse and camel racing, falconry, waterskiing, sailing and snorkeling. From enjoying a desert picnic under the stars to scuba diving with the brightly colored reef-fish near Jeddah, Saudi Arabia has much to offer. For shoppers, Saudi Arabia has everything from vast, gleaming, air-conditioned malls to vibrant souks selling spices, traditional arts and crafts and plenty besides. On weekdays most shops are open from 08 am to midnight, and on Fridays from 4 pm to 02 am, and in Saudi Arabia there are no sales taxes or VAT.

This article was first published in Industrial Clusters
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Natural Resources

Time: April 01, 2018

Covering 2 million km², Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the Middle East and the 14th largest country in the world. Saudi Arabia’s size and geology make it rich in minerals, oil, gas, key raw materials for manufacturing and industrial development. Saudi Arabia has the largest mineral deposits in the Middle East. In the west of the country, the Arabian Shield is a major source of precious and basic minerals such as gold, silver, copper, zinc, chromium, manganese, tungsten, lead, tin, Aluminum and iron. Mainly in the east, extensive sedimentary formations contain industrial minerals such as gypsum, feldspar, mica, Sulphur and salt.

Saudi Arabia is also a source of highly prized rare earth elements such as tantalum – for which it has a quarter of the world’s reserves – and niobium. Saudi Arabia’s deeper sedimentary formations contain most of its 266.4 billion barrels of proven and recoverable oil. This vast natural resource represents up to 22% of global oil reserves, more than any other country. Saudi Arabia oil production began in 1933 and oil exports in 1939. Some eight decades later, Saudi Arabia has enough oil to last another 80 years at today’s extraction rate of 10.2 million barrels a day. Each day Saudi Arabia extracts over 7.5 billion standard cubic feet of natural gas. More than 8588 billion m³ of natural gas is available.

This article was first published in Industrial Clusters

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US investments in Saudi Arabia exceed $55bn

Time: March 22,2018

The total volume of US investments in Saudi Arabia reached over SR207 billion ($55.1 billion) by February, according to a report of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA).

The industrial activities make up the lion’s share of these investments with a total amount of SR193 billion for 95 projects followed by the service sector (SR13.5 billon for 245 projects).

The report, cited by the UAE’s state news agency WAM, also showed nine commercial activities with a total investment of SR300 million and two real estate projects with a total funding of SR16 million.

It added that temporary licences have been given for 16 US projects with total investments of SR2 million.

As many as 16 new American companies entered the Saudi market in 2017 with a total investment of SR382 million, of which 13 licences were granted in the service sector with a total financing of SR284 million, the report noted.

This article was first published in Arabian Business

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Foreign investment in Saudi Arabia

Time: March 1, 2018

FDI in Figures

In recent years, FDI flows to Saudi Arabia have followed a downward trend. According to the 2017 World Investment Reportpublished by UNCTAD, the country is the third largest FDI recipient in Western Asia, after Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. In 2016, FDI inflows fell by 8.5% compared to the previous year, reaching USD 7.45 billion, the lowest since 2014.

Political and social tensions, reduced access to credit and the policy of ‘Saudisation’, which started in 2011 and favours a domestic labour force, have all been obstacles to FDI. Nonetheless, the government has invested heavily in national infrastructure to attract investment, and FDI is seen as one of the most effective ways to diversify the economy and provide employment for younger generations. The government recently announced the opening of the retail and wholesale sectors to 100% foreign ownership and has launched a large privatisation programme. Furthermore, The Saudi Capital Market Authority announced measures to ease restrictions on foreign investment in January 2018 and as such, foreign establishments will need to have USD 500 million worth of assets under management instead of USD 1 billion in order to qualify as an investor in the stock market. The authorities welcome FDI due to its ability to transfer technology, employ and train the national workforce, foster economic development and enhance local raw materials. The country’s controlled inflation and relatively stable exchange rate, openness to foreign capital in upstream gas, as well as extensive privatisation programmes are among the advantages attracting investors to the country. The dynamic performance of the banking sector is driving the growth of the non-oil sector. Lastly, access to the world’s largest oil reserves, very low energy costs and a high standard of living are decisive factors for foreign investors.

Foreign Direct Investment 2014 2015 2016
FDI Inward Flow (million USD) 8,012 8,141 7,453
FDI Stock (million USD) 215,909 224,050 231,502
Number of Greenfield Investments*** 97 92 90
FDI Inwards (in % of GFCF****) 4.2 4.2 4.5
FDI Stock (in % of GDP) 28.5 34.4 36.2

Source: UNCTAD, Latest available data.

Note: * The UNCTAD Inward FDI Performance Index is Based on a Ratio of the Country’s Share in Global FDI Inflows and its Share in Global GDP. ** The UNCTAD Inward FDI Potential Index is Based on 12 Economic and Structural Variables Such as GDP, Foreign Trade, FDI, Infrastructures, Energy Use, R&D, Education, Country Risk. *** Green Field Investments Are a Form of Foreign Direct Investment Where a Parent Company Starts a New Venture in a Foreign Country By Constructing New Operational Facilities From the Ground Up. **** Gross Fixed Capital Formation (GFCF) Measures the Value of Additions to Fixed Assets Purchased By Business, Government and Households Less Disposals of Fixed Assets Sold Off or Scrapped.

FDI INFLOWS BY COUNTRY AND INDUSTRY

Main Investing Countries 2016, in %
USA 21.7
United Arab Emirates 20.4
France 9.0
Singapore 7.9
Kuwait 5.2
Malaysia 4.4
Main Invested Sectors 2016, in %
Chemical industry 30.0
Real estate 26.5
Hotels and tourism 9.7
Coal, oil and gas extraction 7.7
Automotive industry 7.0
Machinery 2.5

Source: The Arab Investment & Export Credit Guarantee Corporation – Latest available data.

Form of Company Preferred By Foreign Investors
Joint stock companies and limited liability partnerships are the only companies available to foreign investors. However, it is possible to establish a branch of a foreign company in Saudi Arabia, which may be owned by a single foreign entity except individuals.
Form of Establishment Preferred By Foreign Investors
Joint stock companies and limited liability partnerships are preferred because a foreigner is not allowed to conduct business in Saudi Arabia as a sole proprietor, unless the individual is operating a branch of a foreign company.
Main Foreign Companies
Visit: ‘Top Companies’ at Saudi Business Centre (The Saudi Network).
Sources of Statistics
Central Department of Statistics (in Arabic)

Why You Should Choose to Invest in Saudi Arabia

Strong Points
Once Saudi Arabia became a member of the WTO in 2005, the foreign investment climate in the Kingdom substantially improved. From an investor’s point of view, the country’s strong points are economic stability, the large local market with a high spending power (and a population of over 27 million), sound infrastructure and a well-regulated banking system.
Weak Points
While the country has undertaken reforms to encourage foreign investment, the legal framework in resolving commercial disputes is considered by some to be inadequate. There is a lack of transparency in applying intellectual property legislation, and the Government imposes quotas of Saudi employees in companies. Cases of delayed payment of some government contracts have been reported. The traditionally conservative cultural environment, including the enforced segregation of the sexes in most businesses and social settings, may discourage certain investors who are not accustomed to such practises.
Government Measures to Motivate or Restrict FDI
According to the law on foreign direct investment, foreigners are now allowed to invest in all sectors of the economy, except for specific activities on a “negative list.” This list continues to shrink as Saudi Arabia attempts to liberalise trade. Still, investment in petroleum and mineral projects, among other activities, remains off-limits.Foreign investors are no longer required to take local partners in a number of sectors and may own real estate for company activities. They are allowed to transfer their company money outside the country and can sponsor foreign employees, subject to certain criteria in accordance with the Nitaqat (Saudisation) programme.

In order to facilitate investments in the Kingdom, the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority(SAGIA) has set up an Investment Services Centre (ISC). The ISC must decide to grant or refuse a license within 30 days of receiving an application from an investor.

Protection of Foreign Investment

Bilateral investment conventions signed by Saudi Arabia
Saudi Bilateral Investment Agreements
International Controversies Registered By UNCTAD
Visit the UNCTAD website mentioning the dispute between Saudi Arabia and the investor country.
Organizations Offering Their Assistance in Case of Disagreement
ICCWBO , International Chamber of Commerce
ICSID , International Center for settlement of Investment Disputes
Member of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency
Yes

Country Comparison For the Protection of Investors

Saudi Arabia Middle East & North Africa United States Germany
Index of Transaction Transparency* 8.0 6.0 7.0 5.0
Index of Manager’s Responsibility** 8.0 5.0 9.0 5.0
Index of Shareholders’ Power*** 4.0 4.0 4.0 8.0
Index of Investor Protection**** 5.8 4.5 6.5 6.0

Source: Doing Business – Latest available data.

Note: *The Greater the Index, the More Transparent the Conditions of Transactions. **The Greater the Index, the More the Manager is Personally Responsible. *** The Greater the Index, the Easier it Will Be For Shareholders to Take Legal Action. **** The Greater the Index, the Higher the Level of Investor Protection.

Procedures Relative to Foreign Investment

Freedom of Establishment
Not guaranteed
Acquisition of Holdings
Possible
Competent Organisation For the Declaration
Ministry of Finance, Saudi Arabia
Requests For Specific Authorisations
Saudi Arabia maintains a Negative List that tabulates sectors not open to foreign investment (visit the SAGIA site and check the Negative List). The sectors currently closed to foreign investment include three manufacturing categories and 19 service industries. The list includes real estate investment in Mecca and Medina, some sub-sectors in printing and publishing, audiovisual and media services, land transportation services excluding inter-city transport by trains, and upstream petroleum. SAGIA periodically reviews the list.Moreover, the SAGIA reviews foreign investors or those wishing to set up a branch in Saudi Arabia on a number of criteria, including their fiscal situation, experience in their field, and Saudisation Plan. A foreign entity cannot invest in the Kingdom outside its field of activity. Activities for industrial LLC’s are limited to the product (machine) or raw material to be produced/used, based on a list of items (in Arabic).

Learn more about Foreign Investment in Saudi Arabia on Globaltrade.net, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

Office Real Estate and Land Ownership

Possible Temporary Solutions

There are ready-to-move-in offices available on rent in various business parks across Kingdom’s main cities.

However in case the foreign company is of national interest, the Saudi Government may provide temporary space for a limited period till the company establishes itself in the country.

The Possibility of Buying Land and Industrial and Commercial Buildings
It is possible to purchase land for the purpose of conducting licensed activities and for employee residences. However, land may not be bought by a foreigner for investment purposes only (i.e. real estate trading).
Risk of Expropriation
Negligible. It is possible under Saudi law (if deemed in the “public interest”), but practically never happens.

Investment Aid

Forms of Aid
The Government has created industrial sites attracting foreign investors in Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam, Qaseem, Al-Ahsa and Mecca. The setting up of a subsidiary allows tax exemptions for 5 years. The State provides electricity, water, fuel, etc. at low prices when industrial plans are involved. The Government encourages partnerships with local companies, granting more aid and advantages to companies whose capital is shared with Saudis. The Department of Industry and Electricity and the Department of Finance should be contacted for more information on the various forms of assistance granted to foreign investors.Foreign investment that fulfils the requirements of the Foreign Capital Investment Code enjoys all privileges of national capital and is entitled to the same treatment, protection, and incentives accorded to national capital, which includes exemption from customs duties on machinery and equipment. The Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) may be contacted for further information about investment laws and opportunities in Saudi Arabia.

In addition, foreign investors who hire Saudis may benefit from a rewards system, whereby the Government would pay 50% of the employees’ salaries, subject to conditions as specified by the Human Resources Development Fund.

Privileged Geographical Zones
The Government has set up six “Economic Cities” located in Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam, Qaseem, Al-Ahsa and Makkah in order to attract foreign investment. These cities focus on different industries.
Free Zones
Saudi Arabia does not have duty-free zones or free ports.

However Saudi Arabia is a member of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Arab League. Saudi Arabia grants special trade and investment privileges to GCC members, allowing free movement of local goods. The Arab League has also agreed to negotiate an Arab free trade zone.

Finally, Saudi Arabia will provide additional incentives and better loan terms to foreign investors who set up their manufacturing facilities in Jizan, Hail and Tabuk.

Organizations Which Finance
Saudi Industrial Development FundSaudi Arabian Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC)

Islamic Development Bank

Investment Opportunities

The Key Sectors of the National Economy
Oil sector
High Potential Sectors
Franchising, Tourism, Banking
Privatization Programmes
The Supreme Economic Council launched a privatisation programme in 2002, which allowed privatisation of 20 state-owned companies in a phased manner. These companies belong to such sectors as: telecommunications, water and drainage, saline water desalination, mining, power, air transportation and related services, railways, some sectors of roadways, postal services, flour mills and silos, seaport services, some municipality services, some educational and social services, some agricultural services, some health services, etc.
Tenders, Projects and Public Procurement
Saudi Tenders
Tenders Info, Tenders in Saudi Arabia
DgMarket, Tenders Worldwide

Sectors Where Investment Opportunities Are Fewer

Monopolistic Sectors
Telecommunications, Electricity
Sectors in Decline
Insurance

 

This article was first published in Santander Trade Portal

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Saudi Arabia Extends Foreign Investment Licenses to 5 Years

Time: February 26, 2018

Saudi Arabia extended foreign investment licenses to a renewable period of up to five years from one year, in the latest step to broaden the oil-dependent economy.

Ibrahim Al Suwayel, deputy governor for investors’ services at the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority, said the move aimed to bolster the country’s economic changes.

Officials have already seen “a positive effect on new investment, following the recent regulation to reduce the time taken to issue business licenses from two days to just four hours,” he said in a statement.

Saudi Arabia is entering a crucial year for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s plan to remake the economy, dubbed Vision 2030, as officials try to raise government revenue without snuffing out economic growth. It introduced the 5 percent value-added tax on Jan. 1 alongside higher fees for foreign workers and subsidy cuts that drove up fuel and electricity prices.

This article was first published in Bloomberg 

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Relax and invest, Saudi prince tells investors after corruption crackdown

Time:  February 20, 2018

RIYADH/DUBAI (Reuters) – Three months after Saudi Arabia detained scores of people in a crackdown on corruption, its rulers are trying to reassure investors that the kingdom remains open for business.

Foreign and local investors have long complained about corruption, and confronting it is an important part of reforms unveiled by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to transform the country and reduce the economy’s reliance on oil exports.

Yet some business leaders were unsettled by the swoop on top princes, businessmen and government officials in November because of the secrecy around the crackdown and their suspicions that it was at least partly politically motivated.

“This is not a recommendation for why you should invest in Saudi Arabia,” said a Western businessman with extensive contacts in the kingdom. “This whole thing has become one big ball of contradictions.”

Saudi authorities are loathe to say they mishandled the anti-corruption campaign.

But top officials, including Prince Mohammed, met senior local businessmen last month to reassure them that the crackdown was mostly over and that it was safe to do business, according to five Saudi and Western sources who spoke with people who attended the meetings. Most detainees have now been released.

 

In front of global political and business leaders at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss town of Davos last month, Saudi officials highlighted the positives of the detentions, dismissing worries about the way the crackdown was conducted but conceding that it might have been sold slightly differently.

“It’s true we could make mistakes here and mistakes there. Saudi Arabia is not a perfect country. Saudi Arabia is like any other country. But the … road to success is always under construction and the whole momentum of Saudi Arabia is going toward that end,” Minister of Commerce and Investment Majid bin Abdullah al-Qasabi told a Davos session.

Government spokesmen in Riyadh did not respond to requests for comment, but Attorney General Saud al-Mojeb has described the sweep as “an independent judicial process” and “part of an overhaul to ensure transparency, openness and good governance”.

The message delivered in the January meetings underscores a difficult balancing act for Prince Mohammed and his team as they try to reform the country.

FILE PHOTO: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and Saudi Prince Miteb bin Abdullah (L) take part in the Annual Horse Race ceremony, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, December 30, 2017. Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout//File Photo via REUTERS

They must deliver change, and one way to do that is by tackling corruption in Saudi Arabia’s opaque business world. But the judicial system is underdeveloped and the crackdown contrasted sharply with Western-style due process.

That means each attempt at reform in the deeply conservative Muslim kingdom risks exposing other shortcomings.

The government has said that financial settlements made with the detainees in exchange for their freedom have raised more than $100 billion, mostly in the form of land, stakes in businesses and other illiquid assets rather than cash.

That should help raise tens of billions of dollars for huge development plans, such as a $500-billion economic zone in the northwestern desert.

But only a handful of specific allegations against those detained have been revealed. Details of the financial settlements are also being kept secret, and Reuters has been unable to verify the government’s gross estimate.

Authorities say that not naming detainees protected people’s reputations, and settling cases out of court avoided protracted legal battles that would have distracted from other priorities.

Yet the secrecy of the crackdown — during which detainees were held inside the same opulent hotel where days earlier investors had rubbed elbows at an international business conference — could undermine transparency promises.

MEETINGS

The January meetings between Saudi officials and the local business community were in multiple locations including the capital Riyadh and Jeddah, according to the sources, who declined to be named because the conversations were private.

The primary message was that another wave of mass detentions is not on the cards, the sources said, a relief to businessmen who worried that authorities might now take the same approach to the next echelon of the Saudi business world.

“They were told the anti-corruption campaign is done: continue with your business as normal and invest in the economy,” said one of the sources, a senior banker.

Another message was that the Saudi authorities define corruption relatively narrowly. While they want to improve Saudi business practices, the officials told business leaders, they will not try to change that culture so radically that normal business ties are damaged, the sources said.

That was a relief to many businessmen in a country where personal relationships often help determine transactions between companies, and where gifts of cash or land are sometimes deemed necessary to get things done.

At one of the meetings, officials told attendees that the government understood business payments to third parties were sometimes required, said one of the sources.

Businessmen and economists in contact with the government do not expect a firesale of seized assets to raise money. That should minimise pressure on the Saudi real estate and stock markets, they said.

Instead, cash is likely to trickle slowly into government coffers, and authorities are not expected to interfere hugely in most of the companies in which they have obtained stakes, said an economist briefed on the government’s plans.

The meetings with the crown prince have calmed the nerves of some attendees, the sources said, but others remain worried that they could be detained at any time and that instability has become the new norm.

“The whole business community is traumatized,” said one of the sources, a Saudi businessman.

The government has demonstrated it is willing to move quickly and ruthlessly to seize the assets of people it believes have acted wrongly.

One banker who spoke to Saudi officials and attendees at one of the meetings said some of those released from detention had been told they may be asked to help fund certain projects.

“There’s an understanding that the government might at some point tap those released on the shoulder and say, ‘Hi, we’re building an infrastructure project and need some funding: Please contribute’,” the banker said.

This article was first published in Reuters

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