Saudi Arabia plans to ease restrictions to allow overseas investors to own 100 per cent of retail and wholesale businesses, according to the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (Sagia).

The policy was announced on 6 September to US businessmen during a visit by King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud to Washington and is aimed at driving new investment and diversifying the Saudi economy, Reuters reported.

Ownership levels for retail and wholesale businesses will be increased from a current maximum percentage of 75 per cent.

Sagia said it would also streamline its investment rules and visa regulations for investors when the new policy comes into force in 2016.