Improving the Saudi Arabian Foreign Direct Investment Framework and Promoting Diversification

  • Atif Alenezi

Student thesis: Phd


Abstract This thesis explores the ways in which Saudi Arabia can improve its investment law framework in order to attract and promote FDI. This was the study‘s main research question and in order to answer this question, the author examined a number of related fields, including the concept of FDI, its advantages and disadvantages, as well as international investment law, and the FDI frameworks of Saudi Arabia and the UK. A doctrinal analysis was conducted, though data was also collected from foreign investors operating in Saudi Arabia in order to supplement the doctrinal research. The research findings led to the conclusion that Saudi Arabia ought to pursue a broad deregulation agenda, similar to the UK. This essentially means repealing the FDI legislation and applying all domestic laws to foreign investors and clarifying various laws in order to heighten legal certainty and increase transparency. Also, the legislator and SAGIA should see through the incremental transposition of a more open FDI model. Reforming the FDI framework is important for several reasons; the International Monetary Fund has predicted that Saudi Arabia could face bankruptcy by 2020 due to the steep drop of the oil price globally. In 2018, 90% of SA‘s export earnings, 42% of its gross domestic product and 88% of its budget revenues were derived from the petroleum sector. Furthermore, a SAGIA report for the Shura Council, the Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia, highlights that the current FDI framework has not been successful in diversifying the economy. Moreover, in 2018 SA only attracted $3.209 billion in FDI, whereas the UK attracted $64 billion in 2019. SAGIA‘s strategy, including its change in approach since 2012, has also been criticised. It is hoped that the reform suggestions will assist the legislator develop new policies although future research is needed to reassess any progress made.
Date of Award1 Aug 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorYenkong Ngangjoh Hodu (Supervisor) & Nicolette Butler (Supervisor)

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