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New body created to manage Riyadh economic zones

Saudi minister of investment Khalid al-Falih is head of Saudi Arabia's Economic Cities and Special Zones Authority Suamy Beydoun/AGIF via Reuters Connect
Saudi minister of investment Khalid al-Falih is head of Saudi Arabia's Economic Cities and Special Zones Authority
  • Plan for ‘regulatory ecosystem’
  • First such zones for capital
  • Aim to attract international business

Saudi Arabia said this week it was establishing a new body to manage economic zones in the capital Riyadh.  

The Center for Riyadh Special Economic Zones was announced by the Royal Commission for Riyadh City to “create a regulatory ecosystem and build a competitive environment for business growth”, the official Saudi Press Agency said. 

The centre will oversee the establishment of special economic zones in the city, issue licences to investors within the zones and manage services. 

Economic zones offer tax incentives and a simplified regulatory environment to attract international business. There are currently no special economic zones in Riyadh, a sprawling city of over 7.5 million, though it has the King Abdullah Financial District. 

The investment ministry has set a deadline of January 1, 2024 for businesses in the region to establish headquarters in Saudi Arabia as a prerequisite for access to government contracts worth SAR1 million ($266,000) or more. 

There are currently four special economic zones managed by the Economic Cities and Special Zones Authority (ECZA), headed by investment minister Khaled Al-Falih. 

They are King Abdullah Economic City, Jazan Special Economic Zone, Ras Al Khair Special Economic Zone and the Special Zone for Cloud Computing and Informatics. 

A Special Integrated Logistics Zone was also created last year near Riyadh airport, though ECZA does not cite it as under its responsibility. 

Riyadh is striving to become a global city, although it still lacks a public transport system. The Riyadh metro is expected to open over the next year with 84 stations, according to the Royal Commission for Riyadh City.

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