Stock - Saudi economy / Riyadh skyline
International companies are flocking to Riyadh as the economy diversifies. Image Credit: Bloomberg

Riyadh: Saudi capital Riyadh has emerged as a new regional hub for over 200 international companies, aligning with an upcoming Saudi government policy.
Effective January 1, 2024, the policy requires international firms to establish their regional headquarters in the Kingdom to be eligible for government contracts.

The move is part of Saudi Arabia’s strategy to strengthen Riyadh’s status as a global commercial centre and has led to many corporate relocations. 
Companies from diverse sectors, including energy, technology, healthcare, and hospitality, have already established their regional bases in Riyadh.

European powerhouses like Schneider Electric, ABB, Siemens, Philips, Schlumberger, and Egis Group are among the notable entrants. Companies such as Northern Trust, Bechtel, White & Case, GE Healthcare, Pepsico, and Baker Hughes have relocated from the United States. The UK has seen firms like IHG Hotels and Resorts, PwC, Deloitte, and Unilever move to Riyadh. Major Chinese corporations, including BGI, Nuctech, Dahua Technology, iMile Delivery, Huawei, and China Comservice, have also joined.

The influx, primarily between 2021 and 2023, has been encouraged by the Saudi government’s attractive incentives. These include a 30-year exemption from corporate income tax, withholding tax on headquarters activities, exclusive discounts, and comprehensive support services covering relocation, concierge, facilitation, and professional advice.
Such a strategic initiative is expected to significantly boost the Kingdom’s economic development and support significant projects like NEOM, Expo 2030, and Qiddiya.