Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority
The Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) is the foreign investment license provider for the Kingdom. It was created by the Saudi Government on 10 April 2000, as part of measures geared towards formalizing the process of economic liberalization. The government body awards investment licensing online and reports to the president of the Supreme Economic Council. SAGIA's headquarters are located in Riyadh, with three other business centers located in Saudi Arabia: Medina, Dammam and Jeddah. In order to facilitate investment, a larger network of business centers has been announced. The centers provide a variety of services such as giving advises, providing information about the requirement to get license and the services acquired after getting the license. This is achieved as the centers have representatives from different governmental agencies including, the Ministry of Labor, the General Directorate of Passports and others.
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Prior to 2000, Saudi Arabia had failed to attract significant foreign investments in its telecommunications, transportation, and power industries despite being the largest market in the Gulf. Foreign investors were deterred by several factors including incomplete economic data, restrictive visa policies for workers, and an extremely conservative cultural environment.
Since 2016, the SAGIA holds a central position in the deployment of Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030.
Intending to liberalize the nation's trade and investment programs, diversify the economy, and join the World Trade Organization, the Saudi Arabian Council of Ministers initiated the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) in April 2000. Under the Council of Ministers Resolution No. 2 dated April 9, 2000, the Authority was created as a vehicle for investment in Saudi Arabia, with the purpose of sustaining economic growth and addressing investment affairs nationwide, including foreign investment.
10 x 10 program
The objective of SAGIA's “10 x 10” program, which ran from 2005 to 2010, was to place Saudi Arabia among the world's top ten competitive investment destinations by 2010. SAGIA created the National Competitiveness Center (NCC) to compare the performance of Saudi Arabia's investment opportunities to more than 300 indicators of global competitiveness, assessed in such publications as the World Bank’s Doing Business report, the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, and the IMD’s World Competitiveness Yearbook. According to the World Bank Doing Business report, Saudi Arabia rose from number 67 in 2005 to number 16 in 2009.
Economic Cities program
Launched in 2006, the Economic Cities program was designed to drive toward greater competitiveness, job creation, and economic diversification.
In developing economic cities, over a thousand of the world's free zones were surveyed. The sixty deemed most successful were studied to determine key success factors. The objectives of the Economic Cities were to promote regional development, achieve economic diversification, create jobs, and enhance competitiveness in Saudi Arabia. Four new cities were identified and thus developed: King Abdullah Economic City, Jazan Economic City, Prince Abdulaziz Bin Mousaed Economic City, and the Knowledge Economic City, Medina.
In October 2011, Pfizer signed an agreement with SAGIA to set up its first manufacturing plant in King Abdullah Economic City. In June 2016, SAGIA gave Pfizer 100% foreign ownership of its legal entity in Saudi Arabia. In August 2017, SAGIA announced allowing 100 percent foreign ownership in the engineering business, after consultations.
The SAGIA is responsible for three main functions: making improvements to increase the Kingdom's competitiveness as an investment destination; building upon the quality of service and value proposition offered to investors; and offering new investment opportunities to attract businesses and investors alike, to help advance Saudi Arabia's economic diversification agenda. Since its creation in 2000, SAGIA also addresses internal obstacles such as women's rights in the workplace to tackle issues related to the investment climate.
SAGIA acts as provider of all investment-related services in the Kingdom: Advisory services, business match-making, liaison and coordination across government departments, instant online licenses. In 2009 the Kingdom was listed as 8th largest in the worldwide ranking of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) recipients.
In an aim to boost the private sectors’ involvement, SAGIA launched Tayseer program. The main aim of the program is to secure the business environment for private companies. As improving the environment for business is one of the key objectives of Saudi 2030 Vision, the program aims at facilitating private sector's engagement in business and decision making.
The Authority's board of directors comprises 14 directors from the Saudi private and public sectors. Prince Saud Bin Khalid Al-Faisal has been deputy governor of SAGIA since December 2010. Governors of SAGIA served four-year terms, as follows:
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