The Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (Sagia) will soon open up the transportation sector to investment by foreign companies, and plans to remove restrictions on investment in other sectors.

Speaking at the MEED Saudi Mega Transport and Infrastructure conference, Khalid Alohali, investment adviser at Sagia, said plans were under way to take new areas off the negative list, the first of which would be the transportation sector.

The announcement follows the award earlier this year of $22bn of contracts for the construction of the Riyadh Metro.

The negative list is a set of economic sectors barred from foreign investment. It includes sectors such as oil exploration and production, land transportation services, security services, real estate investment in Mecca and Medina, the media and military manufacturing.

Alohali later added that Sagia was hoping to make further progress on taking additional sectors off the negative list. Additional measures would also be taken to make it easier for foreign companies to work in the kingdom. Alohali said one example of this was progress towards removing a restriction that forces foreign engineering firms to have a 25 per cent partnership with a Saudi company, “provided they present a detailed plan for how they will develop a local office and contribute to the economy”.

He also said that Sagia, in its role as promoting foreign investment in the kingdom, would increasingly focus on investments that created “sustainable quality jobs”.