Saudi Arabia amends rules to attract foreign investment in property

Changes were proposed to increase competition in the kingdom’s property sector

Work under way at a construction site in the Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh. The kingdom is amending laws to boost foreign investment in real estate. AFP

Saudi Arabia is amending the laws to attract more foreign investments to its property sector, as the country’s economy continues to rebound and attract more workers from abroad, local media reports said.

The proposed amendment to rules governing foreign ownership of real estate will also increase competition in the sector, Asharq Al Awsat newspaper reported.

“The proposed amendment to the system contributes to enhancing the competitiveness and marketing capacity of real estate in the kingdom, and stimulates growth in other economic sectors, in addition to enabling non-Saudis to own property, attracting funds with controls and provisions regulating and facilitating ownership in certain areas targeted for development,” the newspaper said.

The number of foreign workers in Saudi Arabia is rising after a decline early in the Covid-19 pandemic. The latest data show overseas worker numbers grew by 267,000 in the last three months of 2021, marking the first quarterly increase since the first quarter of 2020.

Saudi Arabia, the Arab world’s largest economy and Opec’s biggest oil producer, is forecast to grow 7.7 per cent this year from 3.2 per cent last year, helped by higher oil prices and a robust non-oil sector, Jadwa Investment said in a report this month.

The changes to law also entail the use of properties in Saudi cities and economic zones that are targets for development, including the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah, according to Arab News.

To introduce these amendments, the ministry has invited public feedback on the proposals, it said.

The general public can respond until May 18.

Business activity in Saudi Arabia’s non-oil private sector economy improved sharply in March as demand grew, and output and new orders continued to rise despite cost pressures.

The seasonally adjusted S&P Global Saudi Arabia Purchasing Managers’ Index rose to 56.8 in March from 56.2 in February, The reading was the highest recorded since November last year, marking an overall improvement in the kingdom’s business conditions as it continues to emerge from pandemic-driven slowdown. It was also the fastest rise in non-oil activity since the end of 2017.

A reading above the neutral level of 50 indicates expansion while one below it points to a contraction.

Updated: April 20, 2022, 5:04 PM