Exporting guide to

Saudi Arabia

Overview

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.

Trade statistics

£11.7 billion total UK exports to Saudi Arabia for the four quarters to the end of Q2 2023

(Source: ONS UK total trade: all countries, seasonally adjusted
Last updated: October 2023)

20th largest UK export market

(Source: ONS UK total trade: all countries, seasonally adjusted
Last updated: October 2023)

1.3% of total UK exports for the four quarters to the end of Q2 2023

(Source: ONS UK total trade: all countries, seasonally adjusted
Last updated: October 2023)

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. British companies present in the market include Shell, GlaxoSmithKline, BAE Systems, Rolls Royce and Unilever.

Population growth

Saudi Arabia has a fast-growing population of 35.5 million people. Approximately 39% are under the age of 25 and the young consumer market are early adopters of technology.

Top five UK goods exported to Saudi Arabia , in the four quarters to the end of Q3 2023

Goods Value (£ billion )
Mechanical power generators (intermediate) 1.1
Cars 0.4
Jewellery 0.4
Medicinal & pharmaceutical products 0.3
General industrial machinery (intermediate) 0.2

Source: ONS Trade in goods: country-by-commodity exports
Last updated: November 2023
Download the latest trade and investment factsheet for Saudi Arabia.

Top five UK services exported to Saudi Arabia , in the four quarters to the end of Q1 2023

Service Value (£ billion )
Other Business Services 4.3
Travel 2.5
Financial 0.8
Telecommunications, computer and information services 0.3
Maintenance and Repair 0.1

Source: ONS UK trade in services: service type by partner country, non-seasonally adjusted
Last updated: July 2023
Download the latest trade and investment factsheet for Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia: at a glance

Economic growth

8.7%

Actual figure (IMF, 2022)
The UK is 4.0% (IMF, 2022, actual figure)

GDP per capita

$25,464

Actual figure (IMF, 2021)
The UK is $46,422 (IMF, 2021, projected figure)

Currency

Saudi riyal

Business language

Arabic, English

Time zone

GMT +3

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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.

Check for trade barriers

Trade barriers, such as tariffs or taxes, can raise costs, cause delays, or even stop you from exporting. Check for any issues that may impact your business when exporting.

See current trade barriers

See resolved trade barriers

Check duties and customs

Find information on how to export goods from the UK. View the duties, rules, restrictions, and the documents you need for your products.

See current duties and customs procedures

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

Intellectual property (IP) rights are territorial and rights granted in the UK do not provide protection elsewhere. You should consider getting IP protection abroad if you want to trade overseas or sell to overseas customers via the internet.

The Intellectual Property Office provides practical information to help you protect, manage and enforce your IP abroad. Further support for British businesses can be found through a network of IP attachés, based in key UK export markets.

View guidance on IP in Saudi Arabia on GOV.UK.

Trade barriers

Check for any reported barriers to trading with Saudi Arabia.

Report any trade barriers that are affecting your business so we can help fix them.


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

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