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Country Forecast Saudi Arabia April 2018

Country Forecast Saudi Arabia April 2018

  • April 2018
  • ID: 486622
  • Format: PDF
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit


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Policy towards private enterprise and competition

2018-19: The state retains a leading role in the economy. A slew of parastatals are privatised, mainly through initial public offerings on the stockmarket, and a small stake in the state oil company, Saudi Aramco, is sold off, probably in late 2018.

2020-22: The government steps up anti-monopoly legislation, in an effort to expedite private-sector development.

Policy towards foreign investment

2018-19: Following a lift in the maximum share that foreign firms are permitted to own in retail sector projects to 100% in 2016, a similar loosening of restrictions is rolled out across several other non-oil sectors.

2020-22: Work begins on several mega-projects, including the Neom high-tech city, which will offer less restrictive rules for foreign investors and residents.

Foreign trade and exchange controls

2018-19: The currency peg remains in place. Despite the existence of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) common market, little progress is made on legal harmonisation.

2020-22: The weak oil price continues to exert downward pressure on the riyal, but the authorities refuse to impose capital controls in order to avoid overly harming the business climate.


2018-19: Power and water tariffs rise, and fuel prices are brought into line with international markets. Alongside its GCC allies, Saudi Arabia introduces value-added tax (VAT), at a rate of around 5%.

2020-22: Despite being mooted in the National Transformation Plan, income tax for foreign workers is not introduced.


2018-19: Stockmarket activity is lifted by a raft of privatisations and an easing of rules on share ownership by foreigners.

2020-22: Standards of corporate governance improve slowly. The bond and mortgage markets develop from a low base.

The labour market

2018-19: The labour law is amended to make private-sector employment more attractive to Saudis by, for instance, raising wages and making employment more appealing to women.

2020-22: Labour market reform for Saudis increasingly focuses on the quality of jobs rather than their quantity, and "green cards" are introduced for long-standing and skilled foreign Arab residents.


2018-19: Despite lower oil prices, a number of major projects in infrastructure (power, water and transport) proceed with government support. A massive, state-led programme to build 500,000 residential units produces its first new homes.

2020-22: In order to draw in increased private-sector investment in infrastructure, the government steps up the use of public-private partnerships.

Technological readiness

2018-19: Government advances Vision 2030 targets for boosting internet penetration across households.

2020-22: Saudi Telecoms Company rolls out 5G network in collaboration with Finland's Nokia.

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