Back to top

Doing Business in Saudi Arabia


The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia lies between the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf and has a land mass about the size of Western Europe. It contains the world's largest continuous sand desert, known as the Empty Quarter, and it is the biggest and most dominant country of the Arabian Peninsula. Saudi Arabia is bordered by Jordan to the north; Iraq and Kuwait to the northeast; Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to the east; and Yemen and the Sultanate of Oman to the south. Riyadh is the Kingdom's capital with an estimated population of around five million, the main Saudi government offices are also situated here. Other key cities are Jeddah, the commercial capital which is located on the Red Sea coast and Dammam on the Arabian Gulf. 

Political Overview

Saudi Arabia is named after the ruling Al Saud family. The Kingdom was established by King Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud in 1932. Since his death in 1953, Saudi Arabia has been ruled by several of his sons, although decisions are taken by consensus within a wide circle of Princes and trusted advisors. The Kingdom is an absolute monarchy and is currently ruled by King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. The King heads the government and is also Commander of the Armed Forces. Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud is Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence. Executive power rests with the Council of Ministers, who are appointed by the King. All political parties are banned.

Economic Overview

With a population of over 28 million, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the largest economy in the Arab world, and accounts for 25% of the Arab world's GDP. Saudi Arabia has an oil based economy with strong government controls over major economic activities. The Kingdom possesses around 25% of the world's oil reserves, is the largest swing exporter of petroleum and plays a leading role in OPEC.

The petroleum sector accounts for roughly 80% of budget revenues, 45% of GDP and 90% of export earnings. Saudi Arabia has witnessed a period of relatively high growth and economic progress over the past few years. This has been based on a strong oil sector and record oil revenues, allowing the Kingdom to increase public spending on infrastructure and welfare to match the increasing needs of a fast growing Saudi population. In turn the non-oil private sector is feeding off this upturn in public spending.

Infrastructure Development

The Saudi population is one of the fastest growing in the world and it is expected that there will be 29 million Saudis in 2020 - some 50% of Saudis are under 25 years old. Massive investment will be required to meet the needs of this growing population, creating extensive investment opportunities. Major projects in power, water, oil & gas, petrochemicals, communications, transport, mining, construction and social infrastructure add up to an estimated USD $1,000 billion of investment opportunity over the next 20 years. 

Click here to download the full guide