How Saudi Arabia’s new special economic zones signal that the Kingdom is open for business

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The launch of four special economic zones with incentives for international companies marks a milestone on Saudi Arabia’s path to becoming a global business and investment powerhouse.

The significance of the announcement was summed up by Khalid Al-Falih, chairman of the Economic Cities and Special Zones Authority and Saudi minister of investment, who said: “These four special economic zones offer the chance for foreign investors tohave a stake in the world’s fastest growing economy.”

In August, the International Monetary Fund predicted that Saudi Arabia would this year become one of the world’s fastest growing economies on the strength of sweeping pro-business reforms and a sharp rise in oil prices and production.

In many ways, SEZs embody the Kingdom’s rise and mission to become not only a leading global economy but also a key international business hub.

Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 economic reform program aims to increase the contribution of foreign direct investment, which touched a record $19.3 billion in 2021, from 0.7 percent of gross domestic product in 2016 to 5.7 percent by 2030.

The new SEZs are a major step toward achieving that goal. An invitation by the Kingdom to potential investors in the SEZs describes the Saudi economy as “an investment powerhouse at the center of global trade.”

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