The notice brings to an end the three year grace period announced by the government in 2004 for foreign insurance companies operating in the country to gain a local licence.

A deadline of 15 January has been imposed for unlicensed insurance companies to instruct the Saudi Arabia Monetary Authority (Sama) of whether they intend to transfer their policies to a licensed company or stop writing new insurance policies.

If they are not seeking to get their business licensed they have been asked to keep funds with banks that could repay any insurance claims on the existing policies, and declare these funds with Sama.