Stock Saudi Riyadh skyline
Inward foreign interest in Saudi Arabia remains intact, but the pandemic has played havoc with the schedules. Image Credit: AFP

Riyadh: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Investment greenlighted 506 new international companies with investor licenses during the first six months of 2020.

The numbers came via a 20 per cent year-on-year growth in the first quarter, but followed by a 47 per cent decline in the second, as the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact became more apparent on commercial activity.

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A June turnaround

But the number of investor licence approvals started to pick up in June – with the month accounting for nearly half of all licences issued in the second quarter.

“We are encouraged by the resilience demonstrated by the Saudi economy,” said Khalid Al Falih, Minister of Investment. “This has undoubtedly been a year of unprecedented challenges – and the path of the economy in the near term will depend on the virus.

“However, we have seen clearly that the government’s decisive response to the pandemic has helped to support investors through this difficult time.”

The Ministry released the figures as part of its new Investment Highlights Summer 2020 report. The report also includes analysis of the opportunities available to foreign investors – including a special focus on the mining sector.

Saudi Arabia’s new mining law will bring the regulatory environment of the mining sector in line with international standards, helping to unlock a market which has an estimated $1.3 trillion in untapped minerals.

The opportunity in Saudi Arabia has not changed – this is still a G20 economy that is undergoing a fundamental transformation

- Khalid Al Falih, Saudi Arabia's Minister of Investment