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Saudi Arabia set for FDI top 20 after Misa revises measures

Saudi Arabia's new data will show which sectors are performing best when it comes to foreign direct investment laptop hands statistics Unsplash/Ruthson Zimmerman
Saudi Arabia's new data will show which sectors are performing best when it comes to foreign direct investment
  • Method of measuring foreign investment reworked
  • Consultation with IMF, Unctad and World Bank
  • Data will give clarity on sector performance

Saudi Arabia has reworked its methods of measuring foreign direct investment and will publish updated data in the middle of next month that will show the kingdom among the top 20 recipients globally, according to a senior official. 

Historically, the central bank, still widely known as Sama, published the FDI data using statistical modelling techniques. It added a qualification saying that the data was provisional. 

But following the adoption of a national investment strategy two years ago it became clear that the numbers were not sufficient to allow analysis to support FDI, Dr Saad Alshahrani, deputy minister for economic affairs and investment studies at the ministry of investment (Misa), told AGBI

Misa and other Saudi ministries and the General Authority for Statistics consulted the International Monetary Fund, the UN’s Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) and the World Bank.

The new methodology is based on a balance of payments handbook compiled by the IMF’s FDI technical assistance mission.  

“This data will give us more visibility on which sector is performing well and which is not,” Dr Alshahrani said. 

“From there we can focus on these weak sectors and build some incentives or regulations and also look for investors. At the same time it will support decision-makers.”

Dr Alshahrani said the new FDI data will be published in the middle of next month.

“The numbers look very good,” he said, and will put Saudi Arabia in the top 20 global recipients of FDI.  The kingdom received inflows of $7,886 million in 2022, according to Unctad.

The FDI flows and stock were spread across sectors ranging from mining and energy to manufacturing, real estate and construction, healthcare, and transportation and logistics, Dr Alshahrani said.

The kingdom has also received newer investment in tourism, sports and entertainment, he added. 

To arrive at the new data set, Misa officials analysed 100,000 sets of financial statements dating back 20 years. It will also conduct quarterly statistical surveys.