Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Investment (MISA) said it granted record 466 foreign investment licenses in the fourth quarter of 2020, the highest on record since data compilation began in 2005.
The figure represents a 52% rise compared to the previous quarter and a 60% increase over the same period in 2019. In December 2020, the Kingdom’s most active month for granting foreign investment licenses, it issued 189 investment licenses.
Industries that are attracting investment are industrial and manufacturing, logistics, retail, e-commerce, and ICT. The Saudi government is actively trying to diversify its economy away from oil and gas. Investments in non-oil manufacturing facilities totaled $6.13 billion in 2020. The Kingdom is competing with the UAE to attract foreign entities to locate their regional headquarters within its borders.
The government’s report details recent progress made across the ICT ecosystem, which plays a vital role in the Vision 2030 transformation. The Kingdom is prioritizing the digitization of its infrastructure, economy, society, and financial and government services. Led by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), the ICT industry is expected to increase its GDP contribution to $13.3 billion. The sector is expected to grow 50% in capacity by 2023. Saudi Arabia has long been an early adaptor of new technology thanks to its young, digitally savvy population. According to data cited by the Saudi Gazzette, the average Saudi consumes 920MB of data daily, triple the global average, and internet usage now numbered 96% from just 2% two decades ago.
The annual Investment Highlight stated that recovery in the investment environment is returning to pre-pandemic levels.
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