The Saudi Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Program (NTP) have opened up large numbers of foreign investment opportunities for UK companies. Saudi Arabia is welcoming foreign investment to the Kingdom and has taken recent steps to make it an attractive location for companies to expand into. Here we give an overview of some of the opportunities available.


Energy has been one of Saudi’s greatest income streams from the distribution of oil, however in moves to diversify the economy away from oil, Saudi is accepting investment into other energy sources. These sources include petrochemical, power generation and natural gas-related projects.

The Sadara Petrochemical project will establish a petrochemical project and once complete, will produce 1.3 million tonnes per year of ethylene and 400,000 tonnes per year of propylene. The project will require engineers and procurement firms in the preparation and procurement phases.

The Red Sea Natural Gas Project will use the natural gas reserves off the Red Sea coast to support increased domestic demand. This project has opportunities for engineering and service companies with experience in deep water regions.

Water and wastewater

The NTP objectives are to improve the water and waste conditions in Saudi Arabia through privatization, under the Independent Water and Power Projects (IWPPs). The government are looking for private companies that can produce desalinated water, treated water and provide sewage services.

The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture will start privatizing the sewage sector, starting with 3 key projects in 5 cities and governorates. There will also be projects building water desalination plants and sewage treatment plants.

Education, training and human capital development

Saudi Arabia is investing in the public education sector, it has the largest market in the GCC for education services, as the 18-24 year demographic is set to grow, an additional 125,000 seats will be required in higher education by 2020. Saudi requires training and professional development as 44% of the population is under 25 years of age.

Opportunities are available in:

  • Teacher training and development
  • Curriculum development
  • Developing kindergartens
  • Special Need Education (SEN)
  • Hospitality and tourism / hospital management / logistics management / healthcare training
  • Marine training / International Maritime Organization (IMO) accreditation


Saudi Arabia has a large construction industry, with plans to increase affordable housing, there are many opportunities in the construction industry. The key areas of construction improvement are infrastructure, transport, education and real estate.

The shortage of affordable housing in Saudi has lead the Ministry of Housing to start the Infrastructure Program and Affordable Housing Project, to tender land to developers to build affordable housing options. The project will develop 1.5 million homes throughout Saudi.

Mass transport infrastructure including new rail, metro and bus links

There are opportunities throughout Saudi to contribute to the building of the railway system in Riyadh and smaller systems in Jeddah and Mecca. The £14 billion project will require materials, equipment and service providers at each level of the supply chain. The UK has been recognized for having mass capability in the planning and implementation of urban transport systems.

The Urban Transport Projects involve the development of major rail networks, including tram, monorail, light rail and metros. Opportunities exist in the exports of consultancy, products and services.

The Saudi Landbridge project will transform the current railway system to a world-class passenger and freight rail link across the country. The railway will have the capability to move large quantities of cargo over long distances and will provide safe overland passenger transport.

Growth potential

Saudi Arabia shows great growth potential for foreign investment, as it is the largest economy in the MENA region. It is one of the fastest growing countries worldwide and has significant cost advantages with the low cost of energy and industrial land due to subsidies and incentives.  Opportunities are increasing after the 2016 announcement of Vision 2030 and are expected to continue as more reforms are announced and the budget deficit is reduced.


Challenges exist in doing business in Saudi Arabia, as establishing a physical presence is important and there are many differences that Western companies face when looking to expand into the Kingdom. Challenges arise in finding a suitable sponsor for market entry; for companies that want to enter Saudi in a joint venture, or are required to by law, must find a suitable partner. Another challenge for businesses in Saudi face are the lead time required to establish a legal entity and to obtain licenses to do business, as the process of forming a business can take a minimum of 14 weeks and 3-4 weeks for company registration.

Start up considerations

When entering Saudi, there are many business forms that a company can take, these are LLC, partnerships, joint venture, joint stock corporation, branch office or Technical Services Office (TSO). Each type of company formation requires an initial capital investment of 250,000 upwards to SAR10M+.

For companies looking to invest into Saudi Arabia, there are numerous opportunities available. The UK and Saudi have held strong ties for years as the Kingdom is the UK’s largest trading partner and the UK is a major foreign investor in Saudi. The UK has shown their capabilities in many industries, making it welcome to invest in the Kingdom.

Companies looking to enter Saudi Proven can assist you with commercial representation, market entry and strategy and immigration consulting. Contact us on +966 11 411 1127 or



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