State-owned Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (Sagia), which co-ordinates Riyadh’s efforts to attract foreign investment, says the kingdom will introduce a series of economic reforms over the next 12 months to improve the business climate for international firms
Amr al-Dabbagh, chairman of Sagia, says in the next 12 months Riyadh will approve several new laws, including the introduction of commercial courts to help improve the enforcement of contracts and a new bankruptcy law.
The World Bank says these areas, in addition to problems with trading across borders, are the kingdom’s greatest weaknesses in terms of the ease of doing business. “These will be our priorities over the remainder of 2009 and early 2010,” says Al-Dabbagh.
In September, the latest annual league table was published in the World Bank Doing Business report, ranking the kingdom as the 13th most welcoming economy in the world for foreign companies. Over the past five years, the kingdom has risen up the rankings, from 67 in 2004 to 38 in 2006 and 16 in 2007. Sagia has set a target of being in the top 10 by 2010.
“When we launched the goal in 2004, a lot of people thought we were crazy,” Al-Dabbagh tells MEED. “But we are confident of hitting our target and being in the top 10 by 2010.”
He adds that the recent high-profile financial difficulties of local conglomerates such as Saad Group and Ahmad Hamad al-Gosaibi & Brothers will not damage the kingdom’s reputation as a place to do business.
“There have been bigger problems in other parts of the world as a result of this recession,” he says.