Saudi Arabia has seen a flood of changes in the last year, primarily led by its ambitious reform programme Vision 2030 – unveiled last year by current Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The wide-ranging reforms programme aims to end the kingdom’s “oil addiction”, raising non-oil revenue to SAR600bn by 2020 and SAR1 trillion by 2030 from SAR163.5bn in 2015.
Under the initiative, 12 different programs have been launched so far, including a financial balance programme and a national transformation programme, confirmed Abdullah Alanezi, partner at law firm BSA Ahmad Bin Hezeem & Associates.
“Saudi’s vision offers economic reassurance with clear goals for citizens, local investors and foreign investors. Any person can return to the vision to view in which direction it is headed to. The aim is to offer comfort and security to companies with a specific focus on economic growth within the private sector,” he explained.
“On a legal level, one of the decisions issued recently was an amendment to the name of the investigation and prosecution authority, which was changed to public prosecution,” said Alanezi.
The department of Public Prosecution in Saudi is now similar to that in other countries.
“This body is independent from the Ministry of Interior and its operational entities. The public prosecutor offers assurances to individuals from a legal perspective, offering stability and peace of mind for investors,” he added.
Here are some of the other key new regulations that have been issued under the new Crown Prince, according to Alanezi.
1. Raise support for the Public Investment Fund, which strives to be the world’s largest investment fund and aims to focus on industrial projects, entertainment and other fields. One of the most important projects is the Red Sea project, with its main objective to develop 50 islands in the kingdom. This project will enable partnership with international companies specialised in the fields of entertainment and tourism.
2. The establishment of an entertainment body. The General Entertainment Authority (GEA) aims to recruit and attract international professional companies within the entertainment industry. Saudi is represented by the Ministry of Trade and Investment and the Investment Authority in this regard and aims to provide “great procedural facilities” to support foreign investors in establishing and launching international companies, according to Alanezi.
3. The Saudi cabinet has issued licence approval for international companies in engineering and consultancy to work in the kingdom. The issued decision aims to increase the percentage of local Saudi talent in the field of engineering and to benefit from the expertise of international companies in the Saudi market.
4. A royal order has been issued to review commercial and investment regulations, and to restructure/amend the regulations to facilitate foreign investment. “This is a clear indication of the kingdom’s interest in supporting foreign investment, which is backed by the Ministry of Trade and Investment, which granted 23 licences to American companies to invest in Saudi Arabia,” said Alanezi.
5. The issuance of several amendments for the Saudi Standards, Metrology and Quality Organisation to comply with international standards and hence enhance the kingdom’s presence in the international trading system. In addition, a number of amendments were made to the Capital Market Authority’s (CMA’s) regulations.
6. Seizing opportunities by directly selling to international companies, which leads to eradicating monopoly and increasing competition between companies.