Saudi Arabia’s economic transformation is rapidly making it a prime destination for foreign investors. This shift isn’t sudden; deliberate efforts to cultivate an investor-friendly climate have paved the way for multinational corporations and global players. New laws, like the expansive Companies’ Law, reflect this commitment and broaden the spectrum of opportunities available.

Open Doors for Diverse Investments

Saudi Arabia welcomes foreign companies through various forms, including limited liability companies, joint stock companies, and branches. This article explores the process of establishing a foreign firm within the framework of the Companies’ Law and relevant foreign investment regulations.

Navigating the Licensing Process

Foreign companies can operate in the Kingdom through different formats as outlined in Article 6 of the Executive Regulations of the Foreign Investment Law. However, obtaining a license is crucial and demands specific criteria:

Aligned Activities: Proposed investments must fit within the scope of permitted activities for foreign investors.

Technical Standards: Product specifications and production methods must adhere to relevant Saudi, GCC, or international standards.

Clean Record: Applicants should have a clear track record, free from major violations or convictions domestically or internationally.

Application Integrity: Compliance with the conditions, declarations, and commitments stated in the investment license application is essential.

Regulatory Alignment: Licensing should be consistent with the investor’s objectives and align with the regulatory intent of the authority.

Furthermore, Article 7 of the Executive Regulations of Law Foreign Investment states “The license applicant or his legal representative shall fill out an electronic form of the investment license application via the official website of the Authority [Ministry of Investment], along with completing the following documents in the Arabic language or translating the same into Arabic by a certified office in the Kingdom: 1. A copy of the commercial register of the company applying for license in its native country; and 2. Data of the financial statements for the last fiscal year of the company applying for license.”

A Framework for Foreign Entities

Recognizing the vital role of foreign companies, the Companies’ Law dedicates part 11 to regulating and facilitating their establishment and operation in Saudi Arabia. Key articles include:

Article 237: “Each branch or representative office of a foreign company shall include its address in the Kingdom as well as the company’s full name, address, and headquarters in all its papers, documents, and publications.”

Article 238: “1. An application to register the branch of a foreign company shall include the date on which the branch’s fiscal year commences and ends. 2. With the exception of representative offices, a branch of a foreign company shall prepare the financial statements related to its activities within the Kingdom in accordance with accounting standards approved in the Kingdom, and shall deposit such documents as well as the auditor’s report thereon within six months from the date on which the branch’s fiscal year ends, subject to the Regulations. 3. The appointment of an auditor may be made pursuant to a decision issued by the manager of the foreign company’s branch upon the authorization of the foreign company.”

Article 239: “A foreign company’s branch or representative office within the Kingdom shall be deemed its domicile with regard to its activities and business in the Kingdom, and shall be subject to the laws applicable in the Kingdom.”

Article 240: “If a foreign company commences its activities and business prior to the completion of licensing procedures, if any, and prior to its registration with the Commercial Register, or if it engages in activities not covered by its license, such company and the persons involved in such activities and business shall be held jointly and severally liable.”

Article 241: “If the presence of a foreign company in the Kingdom is to perform certain activities during a specific period, such company shall be temporarily registered with the Commercial Register. Such registration shall expire upon completion of such activities and the company shall be stricken from the Register following the settlement of its rights and obligations, in accordance with this Law and other applicable laws. Said company may, however, continue to exist upon satisfaction of statutory requirements. The Ministry may, in coordination with the Ministry of Investment, set the rules necessary for the implementation of this Article.”

This comprehensive legal framework aims to encourage and regulate the involvement of foreign entities in Saudi Arabia’s thriving economy.


Through meticulous legal frameworks and streamlined regulations, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has strategically positioned itself as a welcoming hub for foreign investment. Its dedication to creating an investor-friendly environment continues to attract diverse companies seeking to tap into its promising economic future. Understanding the legal intricacies and procedural requirements outlined in the Companies’ Law and Foreign Investment Regulations is vital for any entity aiming to establish and flourish within this dynamic economic landscape.


Foreign Investment Law

The Executive Regulations of the Foreign Investment Law

Companies Law

Written by

Fahad Alshaikhmubarak