Exporting to Saudi Arabia

Advantages and challenges of exporting to Saudi Arabia

There are advantages and disadvantages of doing business in Saudi Arabia.


  • UK’s largest trading partner in the Middle East
  • growing diversification within Saudi economy
  • massive government investment in transport, infrastructure, healthcare, education and energy
  • common use of English in business
  • no taxation on personal income
  • proximity to other Gulf markets
  • key member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)
  • largest economy and population in the Gulf region


A physical presence is very important when establishing a business in Saudi Arabia.

Challenges include:

  • identifying suitable sponsors for initial entry into the market
  • finding an appropriate Saudi partner for joint ventures
  • lead time to establish legal entities and obtain licenses from appropriate ministries

You must apply through the relevant government ministries for licenses to do business in Saudi Arabia.

Businesses must also employ a certain quota of Saudis to comply with Saudisation rules. Saudisation (Nitaqat) is a Saudi policy which aims to create better employment prospects for Saudi citizens, and rely less on imported foreign labour.