Exporting to Saudi Arabia

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a high-income country. It has a large population, significant purchasing power and a growing reputation as an important destination for many foreign brands and companies in many different sectors.

Large-scale projects

Saudi Arabia is carrying out several large-scale projects, including a high-tech city called Neom and a megacity for culture, sports and entertainment in Qiddiya. There are also development projects on the Red Sea coast including hotels, high-end residential properties and a luxury tourist and wellbeing resort called Amaala.

Strong UK trade links

Saudi Arabia is one of the UK’s most important trading partners. The UK exported £6 billion worth of goods and services to Saudi Arabia in 2018 (ONS, 2019). British companies present in the market include Shell, GlaxoSmithKline, BAE Systems, Rolls Royce and Unilever.

Population growth

Saudi Arabia has a fast-growing population, with approximately 39% under the age of 25 (General Authority of Statistics, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 2018). The young consumer market are early adopters of technology.

Ease of doing business

92nd

out of 190 countries (World Bank, 2019)

Currency

Saudi riyal

Business language

Arabic, English

GDP per capita

$23,570

UK is $42,558 (IMF, 2018)

Economic growth

2.2%

(IMF, 2018)

Time zone

GMT +3

Opportunities for exporters

There are opportunities for UK companies across a broad range of industries. Our trade advisers in Saudi Arabia have identified particular opportunities for UK businesses in the following sectors.

Doing business in Saudi Arabia

Preparing to export

Tax

You should seek tax advice from a specialist in Saudi Arabia as part of your planning for doing business in this market.

Standards and regulations

The Saudi Standards, Metrology and Quality Organisation (SASO) has a Conformity Assessment Programme (CAP) that covers goods destined for Saudi Arabia.

CAP requires quality checks and inspections of companies looking to export to Saudi Arabia. You will need to provide proof in the form of a ‘certificate of conformity’.

Intellectual property

As a first step, we advise you to speak to an intellectual property (IP) lawyer if you think you need patent protection when exporting.

Saudi Arabia has been a member of the World Trade Organization since 2005 and has introduced new legislation increasing the level of protection for intellectual property.

Certificates of patents granted by the GCC Patent Office secure legal protection of the inventor’s rights in all member states.

Operating in Saudi Arabia

Law

Sharia (Islamic) law is the basis of Saudi Arabian law in all cases. Other laws are enforced only if they don’t violate the rules of sharia. Unlike in common law jurisdictions, legal judgments are not published so there are no binding precedents.

Payment terms

We advise you to use secure payment terms with private and government entities in Saudi Arabia to ensure you get paid on time.

Setting up a business in Saudi Arabia

You must apply through the relevant government ministries for licenses to do business in Saudi Arabia. If setting up a business, you need to allow enough time to establish legal entities and obtain licenses from appropriate ministries. Businesses are also required to employ a certain quota of Saudi Arabian nationals.

Next steps

DIT can advise you on doing business abroad, and help put you in touch with other people who can help such as lawyers and distributors.