The Ministry of Commerce reports that the number of private companies operating in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at the end of the 1996 fiscal year was 8,634, with an invested capital of SR 152.09 billion (U.S. $ 40.56 billion), including 7,421 purely Saudi enterprises with a national capital of SR 126.49 billion (U.S. $ 33.73 billion). Currently 30.4 percent of companies are in Makkah Province, 28.2 percent in Riyadh Province, and 16.5 percent in the Eastern Province.
The major function of the Ministry, which was established in 1954, is the organization of domestic and foreign trade as well as development of the commercial sector. Recently, the Ministry has been supervising the process of the Kingdom's admission into the World Trade Organization. It is worth noting that the contribution of the private sector to the gross national product exceeds 46 percent, and accounts for 73 percent of the non-oil GNP.