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Saudi extends foreign investment licence duration

Saudi extends foreign investment licence duration

The kingdom is seeking to lure foreign investment

The Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) has announced that it will extend the duration of foreign investment licences.

The shift comes as the kingdom seeks to lure foreign investment under its Vision 2030 reforms after some were shaken by a November corruption purge that saw hundreds of businessmen, royals and government officials detained.

Under the change, foreign investors will have the choice of obtaining a renewable licence with a duration of between one and five years from the original one-year validity period.

Governor undersecretary for investor services and consultations at SAGIA, Ibrahim bin Saleh Al-Suwaiyel, said the amendment was intended to allow international companies to “pump more investments” into the kingdom.

He also said it would enhance the competitiveness of the investment environment and make Saudi more attractive to foreign investments.

The change follows the streamlining of the investment licence process last month, enabling firms to obtain one in less than four hours from the previous average of 53 hours.

Read: Saudi streamlines investment licence process

Instead of eight documents, now only two are required – financial statements and commercial registers attested by the Saudi embassy where the company is located.

Licences can also be renewed through a portal on the SAGIA website.

The kingdom has recently focussed its efforts on reassuring investors after winding down a corruption investigation that unsettled business leaders.

Read: Saudi prince seeks to reassure investors after corruption crackdown

Saudi authorities have reportedly tried to assure investors in recent months that they will not try to change the business culture so much that normal ties are damaged.

At the same time they are seeking to signal positive change by pushing for the end of one of the kingdom’s longest-running debt disputes.

Creditors have spent the past nine years pursuing Saad Group for debt that some estimate to be between SAR40bn ($10.67bn) and SAR60bn after it defaulted in 2009.

Reuters reported this week that authorities were preparing to auction cars and real estate belonging to the company and its billionaire owner Maan al-Sanea.

Read: Saudi Arabia to auction detained billionaire’s real estate, cars

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